Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm Back!

Like the mercury in a May thermometer, my mercurial commitment to this blog is once again HOT! And how. I crammed in adventures this weekend like a fat kid cramming Nutter Butters. Here they are in no particular order.

AN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY REENACTMENT FAIR.

When I was 8 or 9, my mother brought me and my sister to the Claude Moore Colonial Farm Market Fair, a thrice-yearly festival at the DC area's low-budget alternative to Colonial Williamsburg. This was at the height of my home herb-growing craze--I had convinced myself that the lavender plant I had in a pot on the back porch was a solid first step on the career path to medieval enchantress--and so words could hardly express my glee at what I found when I got there: a $1 make-your-own-sachet stand, complete with big tubs of dried herbs and a real mortar and pestle.

Oh, sure, there was a blacksmith forge and a woodworking stand and an 18th-century playground with a rope swing and one of those hoop and stick contraptions. But I didn't care. I only had eyes for the sachets. And...the food, the food. Sausage on a big fire and cheese and bread and root beer. If this was what colonial life was like, I thought, count me in. I demanded we go back and back to that market festival something like half a dozen times. And then I forgot about it and 15 years passed.

...Until today! Neil and I went back, and I got a little choked up when I realized that nothing, absolutely nothing, had changed in the intervening years.

Still the same sausage.

Same people who've waited all year to whip out the period costume.


Same funny signs with s's that look like f's.

Same...freaking...sachet stand.

And there was so much more. Claude Moore Colonial Farm operates year-round for the delectation of elementary school students from every corner of a 5-mile radius, and so we made sure to check out the regular exhibitions as well: the orchard*, cattle herd**, farmhouse***, and freshwater spring****. (*: actually just a weed-choked field full of stumps. **: actually just one bull. ***: temporarily closed to the public. ****: stagnant.) Neil fell off a log. I harassed a goose. It was a good day.

And it wasn't over yet! Mid-May is festival season in DC, and no good nomofomist could possibly stop at just one. So we headed over to...


St. Sophia's Greek festivals are a well-known commodity in DC. If you live here, chances are you've been to one and know the score: phenomenal gyros. Live bouzouki music. People selling Orthodox icons. A stand where you can get 3-liter canisters of EVOO and tubs of balsamic vinegar the size of frat house beer kegs. (Hmm. That gives me an idea.)

DC's Greek community was proudly showing off its culture. I loved to see the twinkle in people's eyes as they danced in a circle in front of the band or pronounced "tzatziki" the right way as they ladled it onto my plate. But after a day of sausage and cheese and gyros I couldn't really do anything but appreciate it with my eyes while slumped at a picnic table. Basically all Neil and I did here was wait in line for food and then eat it.

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm Market Fair costs $5 for admission, but most food and activities are either free or less than $2 when you get in. Nothing was really free at St. Sophia's except admission, but the food was great. May in DC is the best.

FUN FACT: the Claude Moore Colonial Farm is located directly behind the George Bush Center for Intelligence, i.e. the headquarters of the CIA. Neil thinks they built it here so no one would live on the outskirts of the property. Coincidence...or COLONIAL CONSPIRACY??

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