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April 26

Written August 10



Dear Friends and Families,

I was on my usual business trip to Lynchburg, in Southern Virginia and had time before my 9pm flight back to Germany, so I took the opportunity to visit Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello. This part of Virginia is littered with old presidents' old homes, but Monticello may be the most popular. I had been avoiding it because of the ever-present crowds but, on this cloudy and gray Spring day, things were relatively peaceful.



There was a one-hour wait for the house tour, but that allowed a casual stroll through the two-hundred-year-old garden and vineyard. The garden was a perfect plat, 1,000 feet (300 meters) long, carved into the side of a hill. The lower side of the plot was supported by a long stone wall, assembled by Mr. Jefferson's slaves. The American president was quite out-spoken against the practice of slavery, but his beloved home would have been impossible without his 100 or so workers. Just below the stone wall was a vineyard and orchard. The old posts and rails of the vineyard planted a seed about gardening back home. We'll see.


The house tour was great, except no photography was allowed in the main house. (See the website for details: http://www.monticello.org/house/roombyroom.html) It's a fascinating story of Jefferson as an "early adopter" of the latest technology, much of it brought back from his tour in Paris as the American ambassador.

After the house tour, we were released to look at the basement level. Here was the kitchen and the store rooms, including one dedicated to beer. Just like the castles back home!

There was also a covered walkway on this lower level, which enabled the house staff to bring the meals upstairs with minimum fuss. This seems a nice feature, but probably not one we'll ever adopt.



So, there it was: a quick bit of history on the way to the airport. A recommended stop and, I have to remind myself, a recommended practice.

John and Marianne

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