“INTERN”Pretations: A Summer Job at Menokin

Haiku by Erin McClain

Went down to the creek
Brought our paddles and kayak
Stepped over small frogs

“Watch out for Beavers!”
Moonlit water splashed my boat
The mozzies were out


Reflection by Silas French

It may be a surprising thing to hear about any job as an intern, but working at Menokin is like a dream job. Our sort of “official” job is handling kayak rentals, but since it hasn’t become well known in the community yet, we have hours of extra time to spend on odd-jobs and projects. That could be something that sounds like busy work, like organizing closets and weed whacking, but even those have been fun.

There is so much to explore in Menokin’s current stage of development: I’ve found cool, old slides of the house, and they even have a copy of the original architectural plans for the house!

There are plenty of other things that need to get done though. Our biggest project this summer has been cataloging the many different plant and animal species on the property and on Cat Point Creek. We’ve photographed and identified over 60 already, and that’s not even including all of the species we’ll surely find in the creek.

One species we found stood out to me: Queen Anne’s Lace, or (as I discovered) Wild Carrot, is an elegant white flower with a small, but supposedly delicious, carroty root. However, any aspiring foragers should be wary of its look-alike, Poison Sumac, which can be deadly if eaten. When looking for wild carrot, it is important to note the distinct carroty smell of its root (which Poison Sumac lacks).

(c) 2016, Leslie Rennolds

Menokin is a beautiful place to explore, and the trails are peaceful and far-removed from the busy background noise of civilization. Rolling roads wind downhill by the Rolling Road Trail, scenic views of the creek are dotted along the Picnic Table Trail, and ancient-looking trees tower overhead on the House Trail.

Cat Point Creek is always fun to go kayaking along, and I go out there frequently to refresh the Visitor Center’s marsh bouquet.

At the time of my writing this, I’m sitting inside the Ghost Structure to keep out of the rain. It was built using the labor-intensive techniques that were used in the days of Menokin’s construction, and it has a look that compliments the glass house idea. When it’s not a rain shelter for me, it’s used as Menokin’s outdoor classroom.

(c) 2018, Silas French

Another benefit of working at Menokin is that it’s the coolest old house anyone will find out here (but that goes without saying). Even though they haven’t begun building the glass structure, the ruins (and the rest of the property) are full of archeological discoveries waiting to be found. This project is already drawing in an international audience of architects, archeologists, and educators, which may be surprising until you think: Who wouldn’t want to work on a glass house on the frontier of historical preservation?

(c) 2018, Silas French

(c) 2018, Selfie by Silas French and Erin McClain

Silas French and Erin McClain have made the most of their time at Menokin this summer.

Both are 2018 graduates of the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School for Marine and Environmental Science. Silas will be attending VCU in the fall and Erin is heading off to William and Mary.

These two have been a great asset to Menokin. We wish them luck as they begin their college experience.

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