Tag Archives: Menokin

“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.

Kayaks Ready to Rent

It’s hot outside! And Menokin is the cool place to be kayaking out on Cat Point Creek!

Our friends at USF&W loaned us their trailer to get all the new boats down to the creek. Silas, one of our summer interns, painted the rack and set up all of the boats. He’ll be ready to teach you how to paddle and assist your launch. Be sure to bring a hat and sunblock.

Now it’s easy to learn how or just come explore. Free lessons are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-12pm, just call or email Alice at 333-1776, afrench@menokin.org to reserve a boat. Come meet our new ACA trained kayak instructors Silas and Erin.

Already know how to paddle a boat? Menokin has rentals available now, too! Sit-on-top singles rent for $10/2hours; or paddle together and save in a tandem (two-person) kayak for $15/2hours. Rentals are available Tuesday through Saturday, 10am until 6pm, and include a US Coast Guard certified life jacket, paddle, and kayak.

Got your own paddle boat or board? You can come out anytime until 7pm, every day of the week and use our launch free of charge.  Menokin is a Chesapeake Bay Gateway and also part of the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail. You can access the flat water of Cat Point Creek from our soft landing.  After your adventure, take a minute to add notes about your adventure in the waterproof log book we keep nailed to the tree.

Download our printable paddle guide. Happy paddling!

Learning and Lounging on Cat Point Creek

Dr. Duane Sanders, River Program Coordinator, Biology Instructor

Students from St. Margaret’s School Outdoor Adventure program spent three afternoons in May kayaking on Cat Point Creek at the Menokin Plantation. Students learned about wildlife supported by this ecosystem and how the system can change over time. They also relaxed and had some fun!

Menokin Ghost Structure: Playing Catch Up

IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM: DAY 1 AND DAY 2

 

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.

Get Floored By The Progress

The Menokin Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos – Day Two

Day One ended with peg manufacturing in full swing (need 80 total), the grade beams of the structure assembled and the chiseling of the mortise and tenon joints well underway.

By lunchtime on Day Two, the floorboards were cut and laid. Preparations for the framing of the walls began in anticipation of the vertical beam raising to take place on Day Three. And let’s not forget the fashion show of the Fab Four students voguing their Menokin hats.

Take a virtual stroll through the pictures and imagine the scent of fresh-cut pine perfuming the air; hear the scrape of draw blades shaping pegs; feel the delicious spring combination of warm sun and cool breeze on your skin and get floored by the progress being made on our newest interpretive tool at Menokin.

The Menokin Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos

MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS

This structure will be 15ft x 25ft. The enclosed wall surfaces will be transparent and developed in the future for educational interpretation. Participants are spending the week learning wood working and joinery techniques that were used in the 18th century.

Based on information derived from archaeological excavations, we will be recreating the framework of a dwelling that would have been lived in by Menokin’s field slaves.

DAY ONE: The Work Begins

MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR MIND

THE MENOKIN GHOST STRUCTURE serves as a physical metaphor to foster discourse and assist people in forming and participating in conversations about slavery as it relates to the Menokin site, the history of America and current events.

MEMORIA is a Latin term, and can be translated as “memory.” Memoria was the discipline of recalling the arguments of a discourse in classical rhetoric. Creating outline structures of the major arguments of a discourse would also aid memory.

KAIROS dictates that what is said must be said at the right time. In addition to timeliness, kairos considers appropriateness. The term also implies being knowledgeable of and involved in the environment where the situation is taking place in order to benefit fully from seizing the opportune moment.

The size of the building is known from the archaeological evidence. However, because there are no photographs of it, we are recreating only the timber framing of the structure, which will be clad in a transparent sheath. We are calling this building the Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The design, drawings and renderings of
the Ghost Structure were created by architect Reid Freeman, who also serves on the Menokin Board of Trustees.

 

 

 

True to our unique vision, we are not creating a reproduction of a slave dwelling, but instead a constructed form that will generate dialog about our past, with the flexibility to garner new knowledge, awareness and understanding. Once completed, this structure will be used as an educational classroom, and will serve as the centerpiece in telling the African American story – both past and present – in Richmond County, Virginia and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Outside The Sink

By Alice French | Education and Outreach Coordinator

Spring has finally come and Westmoreland and Essex County 6th graders spent the day at Menokin learning about the Rappahannock River Valley Watershed.

The students from Mrs. Beale’s science classes at Montross Middle School (pictured here) spent their chilly weathered day with several activities including learning how to paddle a canoe, water testing, a special Hard Hat Tour, learning about the daffodils which grow at Menokin, painting with soil and learning about mapping. The students kept warm by keeping active.

The following week, Mrs. Layne’s classes from Essex Intermediate visited on a day with wild changes in the weather! One sure way to get to know your environment is to spend a field day outdoors in the Spring! The unexpected rain changed our morning activities and the students stayed indoors and learned about the making of buildings and the teamwork involved while they got to create some of their own architectural structures. They also got to develop their very own 100 acres of land and learn how what we build effects our watershed. Then with a break in the clouds, we went outdoors for canoe and house tour activities, until the strong gusting spring winds brought everyone back off the water to conclude the day.

This program is part of a partnership with multiple environmental educators. Menokin joined Friends of the Rappahannock and 4H to give these students a fun and educational field day. “A River Runs Through Us” is part of a year long program that allows students to achieve the Virginia mandate of each child having a meaningful watershed experience and teach kids how to continue to be stewards of their waterways.