Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Old Sturbridge Village

(Duncan takes in the sights at the Colonial outhouse).

Although we love to camp, the real purpose of our last camping trip was to visit Old Sturbridge Village. We weren't sure how Duncan would like it; before we went, we spent a lot of time talking about the "old days" and shared the OSV website with him. He spent hours watching videos on YouTube of everything from war reenactments to smithing and pottery. Our efforts were rewarded in his boundless enthusiasm on the day of our visit.

Duncan's favorite parts were the cobbler, the horse and carriage ride, and the potter. The cobbler makes shoes that are worn by OSV employees. He explained to us how shoes were made and that many shoes during the Colonial times were made with no discernible right or left foot. The leather was soft and conformed to the foot over time. The horses, Tom and Jerry, took us on a ride from the center of town around the mill pond. It was an old-fashioned form of public transportation that Duncan loved so much that he begged us to go again (alas, we didn't have time). The potter was his favorite, which is apropos since Duncan's father and grandfather have thrown more than their fair share of pots. Duncan watched with rapt attention as the potter threw several pieces, explaining how the Colonial potter would have had to schedule his pottery around the farm schedule. He would have hauled clay form a site near the river all the way back to town and would have spent a great deal of time preparing the clay. He would only have had time to finish a few pieces at a time and would fill his studio with nearly 800 pieces before beginning the several-day-long process of firing. I'm sure that when we return to OSV, the "pot man" will be Duncan's first stop.

I'm not sure what Jamie liked best, but he spent a lot of time under the mills, explaining to Duncan how the river water turned the gears to operate the grist mill, the carding mill (to prepare wool for spinning), and the saw mill. Actually, the saw mill may have been Jamie's favorite stop. Though there were no interpreters at the mill when we stopped by, he was fascinated by the scary saw and use of simple machines to roll logs into the the mill and finished planks out to the ground. He and Duncan also enjoyed watching several innings of a Colonial baseball game, where the rules seemed a little lax, the gloves lacking, and the bats primitive broom handles.

While Jamie and Duncan watched baseball, I watched hanks of yard dyed by hand in colors more beautiful, vibrant, and organic than anything produced synthetically. Once the wool was carded and then spun, the yarn was dyed in cauldrons over an open fire. It looked a little witchy. I don't remember what the dyes were made of, but natural ingredients like indigo and sage made delectable colors. I loved all things textile; the sheep, the carding, the spinning, the dyeing, and the looms. I was glad to wander those areas freely while the boys took the game.

When we first walked into OSV, we couldn't imagine needing two days there. Within hours, we understood why OSV issues a free return admission within 10 days of each paid admission. We had a very full day - several hours more than we anticipated would maintain Duncan's interest. After our return, Jamie noted that OSV offers a fantastic, period celebration for Independence Day. We just might spend America's NEXT birthday in the Colonial Era.

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