Delightful, so exceedingly delightful!

I’m in Williamsburg, Virginia visiting Katie, and I’ve been having SO MUCH FUN!  Here are some notes from our first day or so together.

Katie’s house is simply – and I mean that in both senses of the word – delightful.  It’s tiny and compact, and everything is well-thought-out, functional, and neatly arranged.  She has all she needs to live comfortably, and it’s decorated very nicely.  It’s so perfectly Katie, and it all makes me smile.  = )  She has some of my pictures on her walls (!!!) along with a grand National Parks map, and her display of park brochures is striking.  She re-arranged her table and desk to accommodate her twin mattress for me (she pulled it in from storage), and it’s perfect.  Her landlord has thoughtfully provided lots of bookshelves, which are nearly full.  She has a walk-in closet beneath her bed, and her very nice bathroom features an AWESOME tiled shower.   So those are my lodgings for this extended weekend.

Saturday morning, Katie needed to go to the William and Mary library to pick up some books and review some microfilm for her research project.  It’s only about a ten-minute drive to campus, and the drive is lovely; old-growth forest, flat to gently rolling terrain, and just that typical Virginia look and feel that deeply refreshes us both.

In the library, I had an absolutely grand time and learned a lot.  I got to experience rolling stacks (how fun and ingenious!), the world’s largest two-socket, three-prong extension cord (two feet square by one foot high?!? why???), and a microfilm reader (just amazing, and scanning through a St. Louis newspaper from 1830 was fascinating. . . and humorous!).

Utilizing one backpack and two tote bags, we hauled an estimated 47 pounds of books back to the car, then decided to walk north to the edge of campus to see the Wren building, which is both part of the college and one of the buildings of Colonial Williamsburg.  Being two history buffs, it’s always hard for us to resist exploring a notable site.

I must say that our walk through the heart of the William and Mary campus was just delightful.  Red brick sidewalks weave through the woods along a creek and series of ponds, and it was all so green and peaceful and lovely.  Katie wanted to show me James Blair Hall, the history building where her classes meet, but before we went in, she took us around the side of the building to the Tyler Garden, a circular area paved with brick and featuring bust statues of three famous Tyler men, including the presidential one.  The statues were nice, but they weren’t the main event.  That “garden” happens to contain one of the most interesting phenomena I have ever experienced.  If you stand in the exact center of the brick area and speak, your voice sounds amplified in your own head!  It’s really weird!!!  The folks around you hear you talking normally, but something about the acoustics of the low curved wall and/or the building in front of you creates a really bizarre sensation.  Truly wild.

Having toured Blair Hall and proceeding onward, at one point, we came upon a wedding party and detoured around behind some buildings to avoid walking through their group.  We really weren’t dressed for a wedding and had not been invited.  In the area between an unknown building and Jefferson Hall stood a tree.  It was more gnarled and sprawling, more horizontal than vertical, an HUGE!  I surmised (and later obtained proof) that it was a mulberry tree, and trust me, this was no mulberry bush to go ’round.  It begged to be climbed, and so Katie did.  With joy.

At the eastern edge of the campus, we came to the Wren building.  Katie thought it might be open even on the weekend, and it was.  Wow.  What a building.  It’s the oldest college building in the United States, built in the late 1600s to educate young men and train Anglican priests.  We explored it thoroughly and learned much of interest.  For example, we didn’t know any of these facts before touring the Wren building, historically known simply as “the College.”

Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary from age 16 t0 18, and in his later years criticized the design of the building and re-organized and expanded the College’s curriculum..

George Washington was the first chancellor of William and Mary.

Margaret Thatcher was the first British and only woman chancellor of the the college.

Queen Anne was wealthy enough to fund the rebuilding of the college after fire.  She was a rather ugly, manly looking woman, but that is understandable when you consider that she was the sister of Queen Mary II (of William and Mary fame) who was also homely, as was her husband, William III.  I suppose this proves that good looks don’t necessarily accompany prosperity and/or power.

Beyond the fascinating Wren building stretched the several blocks of, drum roll, please. . . colonial Williamsburg!  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one can stroll its streets and enter any of its touristy buildings for free.  Of course, if you want to enter one of the historic building where interpreters in period costume explain all kinds of wonderful things, you must have in hand an enter-all-buildings ticket which can be purchased for a fee neither of us was interested in paying, but this was not a problem, because the two main things I wanted to see in colonial Williamsburg were both outdoors.

I had in mind an iconic image of a building there.  It’s the building I’m pretty sure everyone pictures when he thinks of Willliamsburg.  In fact, it comes up on my phone’s weather app for Williamsburg.  I thought it was at one or the other end of the main drag, Duke of Gloucester Street, so having already ascertained that the the building at the west end was the College of William and Mary’s Wren building, we purposed to walk to the other end in search of “my” building.  It turns out that I was actually seeking the Governor’s Mansion, which is off down a side street, and the one at the east end is the capitol, on the way to which we accomplished my other goal, a photo of Katie and me in front of The King’s Arms Tavern. a fine dining establishment that I remember from my childhood.  I’m not sure how old I was (maybe ten or so?) when our family toured Williamsburg, but I distinctly remember waiting a very long time in a very formal (read “uncomfortable”) dining room for some very fancy and very expensive food.  But my primary memory of that fine establishment was that my dad, known in the family for his unique and humorous terminology, consistently referred to it as “The King’s Foot.”  = )  I hadn’t seen The King’s Foot in over 40 years, and I was very pleased to find that it’s still there in all its pricey glory.  In fact, should a family of four choose to dine there this evening, their dad should be prepared to make an investment of about $200.

As we made our way first east and then back west on Duke of Gloucester Street, I commented on the large number of large (some them nearly the size of small ponies!) leashed dogs being walked by their owners down the middle of the street.  It almost seemed as if there were some kind of dog convention going on.  Katie then pointed out that the abbreviation for that thoroughfare would be D.O.G. Street, which solved that mystery.  I guess everyone and their dog turns out for s stroll there on a pleasant day.

Having learned some fascinating facts about how a three-pound artillery gun (a.k.a. cannon) was shot and loaded, how to keep your enemy’s cavalry horses from jumping fences at you, how a weaver’s loom works, and that defenestration means throwing someone out of a window, we concluded our impromptu visit to Williamsburg with a delicious dinner – not at the King’s Foot, but at the Trellis Restaurant, where Katie greatly enjoyed their ciabatta cheese pizza, and I equally enjoyed their southwestern soup and half wrap sandwich.

Back home, the Cardinals lost to the Cubs = { but not till Matt Capenter hit his homer and took off his hat so we could admire Taylor Sherman’s handiwork earlier in the week, and we played Dominion.  = )

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