I often stop along the lane into Menokin to take pictures when a flash of color catches my eye. Such was the case earlier this week when a cluster of red berries I’d been noticing were finally too beautiful to pass by.
Now, here are the confessional and teaching moments of the story wrapped neatly in a bow.
Confession: I wasn’t sure what they were. I suspected sumac but fell into the immediate trap of thinking sumac=poison. But what kind of poison exactly. Rash? “Eat me and die” poison? Or was it sumac at all? Was it the insidious invasive, tree of heaven?
Teaching Moment: Obviously it was not safe for me to be out of doors with my sketchy knowledge of what was or wasn’t sumac. And I did touch one berry so it was crucial to figure this out straight away before symptoms started appearing. So I fired up Google and went to work.
What I learned was this:
- It was sumac. Staghorn Sumac to be precise.
- I wasn’t going to die.
- I wasn’t even going to itch.
- As a matter of fact, people all over the world use this very same berry as a spice, a medicine and to make lemonade.
The Farmers Almanac did the best job explaining the whole wonderful story so follow this link if you’d like to learn more.
Now, if I could just figure out what kind of bug this is that I saw crawling along the stem…
How sad is it that the crew can build an entire structure faster than I can blog about it and post pictures? Very sad.
DAY 3 – Wednesday
The day was made more interesting by the arrival of two groups of horticulture and carpentry students from the Northern Neck Technical Center. Most of the students had never been to Menokin before. I was so pleased to hear many of them say that they “sure didn’t expect it to be like this!”
In case you didn’t know, May is Preservation Month. The “This Place Matters” campaign was started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation many years ago to bring attention to the importance of historic buildings to local communities as well as visitors and enthusiasts.
DAY 4 – Thursday
Raise the Roof takes on a whole new meaning when you see it happening. All the chiseling, measuring, staging and peg making were put to the test with the assembly of the structural timbers and the crown of roof rafters. The beautiful bones of the building are a perfect addition to this vast, cultural landscape.
Thank you to everyone who has touched, or been touched by, Menokin in some way in 2017. We have had a remarkable year of growth and planning. Our programs are reaching more people than ever and we experienced a record number of visitors.
Now, during this season of celebration, it’s important to pause for quiet and mindfulness. Take a different path. Appreciate the timeless workings of nature transitioning to another season.
We offer you the gift of Menokin. It’s all here waiting for you. The road less traveled by.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us.
The Menokin Foundation celebrated the Grand Opening of the newly improved road and water access to Cat Point Creek at the end of November.
Several people were on hand to enjoy a reception with great food (can you say “freshly fried catfish?”), good memories and a trip down the trail to the water.
Only two and a half brave souls took to the water in kayaks on the sparkling cold day. But we look forward to welcoming more kayak and canoe enthusiasts in the years to come.
A special thanks to the National Park Service for their $99,000 grant through the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network to make this project a reality!
The Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society posted a photograph of the remnants of a chimney from a tenant house on the Menokin property that sparked a discussion about the structure. This led to the eventual question about who had lived there. The NVHS called me to inquire…
Sarah dug up a 1985 National Register Assessment of Menokin and shared with me a transcript of an oral history interview done with Mr. Omohundro who was the last private owner of the property. His recollections are interesting, and I have posted a PDF of this on our website if you’d like to read it.
In the meantime, I thought I would share a few photos of the chimney. As are most vistas at Menokin, this structure is romantic and mysterious and makes a wonderful photographic subject.
We’d love for you to share any photos you have, or stories that you may know about people who may have lived in the tenant house.