I am super excited today. I left my comfy home, my husband and two boys and set of on what is becoming an annual NEH Landmark Workshop Adventure. In the past I have journeyed to Fort Ticonderoga, Springfield Illinois and Kansas City, Missouri to be immersed in regional history. This year's journey has kept me closer to home ( but no less exciting ). I am in Deerfield, MA, about 90 minutes west of my home in Lowell.
I arrived around 4:00 pm, checked - in and then settled into my living quarters before the program began. It has been raining on and off all day, so wouldn't you know it ... the second I get out of the car with my suit case it starts pouring again. Instead of doing the smart thing and get back in my car, I make a mad dash to the dorm. Soaked I put my stuff away and head to the Teacher's Center.
We (the teachers) sat in small groups getting to know one another. For some of us it is the first NEH experience, others are Veterans at attending these week long events. After a few minutes, our esteemed program directors began to orient us on our week ahead. Soon there after we piled into cars and vans and headed to the summit of Mt. Sugarloaf for our first activity. Thankfully we drove to the summit and there was a covered pavilion area (yes it started raining again.)
When we first got to the top of Sugarloaf it was eerily enveloped in fog. We really could not see what I was assuming was a phenomenal view. Dinner of pizza and salad was provided for us. We ate and enjoyed each others company under the pavilion, cuz we certainly could not enjoy the view. Then, something spectacular happened, the fog slowly started to lift and the setting sun started to peek out behind the clouds. The view was stunning!
We had a discussion about the land use of the Native Americans, the English Settlers and why the land has some of the most fertile soil of the region. After returning to the dorms, I ventured down to the local watering hole with some of the other teachers. All in all I would say that day one was a success.
July 11, 2016
Today was a jam packed filled day, in a good way. We were kept busy and engaged all day. We began with a lecture from the lead scholar, Kevin Sweeney.
After that we broke out into small groups and rotated through a series of interactive sessions. One of my favorites was going to the Indian House Children's Museum. There the museum educators led us through three different activities. Our first stop was in the kitchen where we were asked to complete two tasks. One was churning butter and the other was making Switchel. With the Switchel, the only guidance that was given was we had to make a palatable drink using these ingredients(ginger, vinegar, water and molasses). We had no idea how much of each ingredient was needed. It was trial and error. I was skeptical, but we surprisingly enjoyed a somewhat palatable refreshing drink. Who knew? I later Goggled it and found the recipe. You can find it here. The homemade butter was served at dinner.
The next activity involved looking at and discussing 18th century period clothing for men women and children. It seems to be that the phrase "Time to cut the apron strings" , comes from the children's clothing. They were literally tied to their mother's apron strings until they were about five years old.
Lastly, we went to another room in the Indian House Children's Museum and actually learned about Indians! We had a chance to look at and discuss Native American artifacts.
Next a walking tour, a museum visit to see "The Door". It is the Plymouth Rock of Western Massachusetts, a relic left over from the Deerfield Raid in 1704. There are gouges in the door from when the Native Americans were breaking into the house. Learn about it here. We also had a lecture on the material culture of Colonial America. Lastly, we had the opportunity to discuss and work collaboratively on our projects.
Image Source: http://1704.deerfield.history.museum/popups/artifacts.do?shortName=door
July 12, 2016
Despite the slow start today (at no one's fault, it was due to the fact the speaker was having car issues) it was a pretty good day. Our speaker, Margaret Bruchac did a fantastic job discussing the Native American point of view. It was interesting to learn about. We got a chance to look at and discuss some primary sources that sold the land to the English.
,Image Source: http://1704.deerfield.history.museum/popups/artifacts.do?shortName=ahimunquatdeed
My group had a great discussion about this document. There was another walking tour, this time with Margaret, and a chance to hear some first person narratives of the people of Deerfield - all of which were fascinating. At one point during the day another scholar and I had a bit of free time and wandered down to the old cemetery. There we found Margaret giving the last tour of our NEH group. Since we didn't get a chance to go there with her earlier, we tagged along. It ended up with us walking through a meadow and having to climb over a fence to get back to the street. Sorry there is no photographic evidence of this, you will have to take my word.
July 13, 2016
Today was a road trip day. My kind of day! We began in the morning walking around some historical Native American Indian sites. The first site is now a neighborhood but we had some interesting discussions about the history of the land as we walked around. We then went to another area. This one was a wooded area. We walked around an Ancient Indian burial site. A local Indian performed a blessing at the burial site. I was going to take pictures, but I felt like it would be intrusive. Basically he said a prayer and scattered tobacco to the four cardinal directions. Then he had his wife do something similar for balance. We hiked through this area and occasionally stopped to have a discussion.
Next we boarded the bus and headed to Fort Number 4. This was a civilian fort. Small but interesting to see.
Thursday night, our last night we had a lot of fun. We were brought to the tavern to learn about well, taverns. There was punch, lots and lots of rum punch. We got a chance to hang out, play colonial games like Nine Pin (tabletop bowling), checkers and oh yes... Dancing and Music. Not just any music, colonial musicians playing fancy colonial dancing music. Um did I mention there was dancing. Sorry no pictures, I was too busy dancing!
Needless to say this was a very fun night and late night.
July 15, 2016
Ah the week has come to a close. Today was about wrapping up the week and getting ready to go home. I have to say I am glad I was able to attend the program! Once again I want to give the National Endowment for the Humanities a great shout out for making these fabulous programs available to teachers. Thanks!
For those of you who are interested for next year... http://www.neh.gov/divisions/education/summer-programs