At James Monroe’s Ash-Lawn Highland, there is a grand, twisting oak tree that towers above the lawn. This oak has stood the test of time, and is now over three hundred years old! Just to throw this out there, that takes us back to at least 1716, making this tree older than our established country! (And, also older than James Monroe, who was born in 1758).
I had the pleasure of touring Monroe’s home, which he affectionately called his “cabin-castle.” There is a rich history evident in the place, and I especially enjoyed exploring the surrounding grounds. Because it is early in the season, the garden was not yet in full swing, but I can imagine what it will look like when it has been planted! (Drool). I spied some seedlings emerging near the basement kitchen door, and noted some guide-wires for peas as well. A large garden had been tilled, awaiting spring planting.
I felt quite at home in Monroe’s study, which was small and cozy. I imagined what it must have been like in that tiny room, with the fire blazing. I thought about the possibility of Monroe sitting down with Jefferson in that space … what did they talk about? How did their voices sound? I thought of his wife, Elizabeth, and his children as well. I imagined them in this space, their home, and they came alive to me. That is always one of my favorite experiences in an historic house: Remembering the lives of the people who made that place a home.
I also thought of my copy of Monroe’s biography in my library, and wished I had it close at hand for reference! Luckily, there is this miraculous place called the Internet, where I could tie up (most of) my lingering questions. Though I have read it once before, I am moving it back to the short-stack of upcoming literary pursuits. Monroe is an interesting bird. (Aren’t they all?)
Of special interest to Miss Thistle was a new-born lamb in the pasture. We enjoyed listening for the lamb’s tiny voice, likening them to the sounds of her own new-born “lamb,” (Little Thistle). Little Thistle, however, was so tuckered out that I am not sure he knows that he visited the home of our fifth president. Perhaps we can arrest his attention with the home of the fourth?