Little Mountain


When Thomas Jefferson finally retired from public life to his beloved Monticello, a steady stream of visitors made its way up the hill to visit and pay homage. Debts led to the property’s sale upon his death in 1826, and the house fell into a sad state of disrepair. It was rescued at last by admirer Uriah P. Levy and his nephew Jefferson Monroe Levy and, later, the Monticello Foundation.

I wonder what Jefferson would make of the fact that the procession of admirers continues today, bearing digital cameras to record his gardens, his architectural innovations, his books and tools and inventions. None of us, however, is invited to stay for a month or so in one of the guest rooms. Unfortunately.

CakeWeddingDawn and Emily




River Farm


Our family spent a morning along the Potomac River at River Farm, the 25-acre headquarters of the American Horticultural Society. The AHS provides gardening information through programs for adults and children, and is a very lovely setting for a quiet stroll. River Farm itself has an interesting history, which I will cover in more detail in a later post.


Flag Day


The story of the Stars and Stripes, as passed down through the family of upholsterer Betsy Ross, is that George Washington visited her and asked if she could create a flag from a sketch he presented. Upholsterers commonly took up other work to keep bread on the table (for a while Betsy Ross also made musket balls for the army). The finished product was adopted by the Continental Congress on this day in 1777 as the official flag of the new United States. I post here a sketch, from the Palisades neighborhood Fourth of July parade, of the Peruvian dance troupe’s young standard-bearer. The scene struck me as so, well, American.

Something’s Lost That Can’t Be Found

If you grew up Catholic, and you couldn’t find your homework or your lunchbox or your gym shorts, then you knew what to do. You went straight to St. Anthony, the Patron Saint of Lost Things, whose feast day it is today.


St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) was born in Lisbon, Portugal, into a prosperous noble family. Although his parents arranged for his education at the cathedral school in Lisbon, at fifteen he left the school, against his family’s wishes, to join the followers of St. Augustine outside the city. His friends from Lisbon kept dropping in to visit him, so eventually he transferred to an even more remote priory in order to devote himself to study and prayer without distractions. Not exactly a party guy.

A visit from a group of Franciscans on their way to Morocco who were subsequently martyred there inspired him to join the Franciscan order and head straight for Morocco. (Frankly, such an episode would not motivate my career choice, but that is one reason I am not a saint.) But his Africa-bound vessel went off course and landed instead in Italy. There he was appointed to a remote hermitage.

However, sometime later, on the occasion of an ordination, when told to come forward and speak extemporaneously, he was so eloquent that he was reassigned as a traveling preacher. Much of his time was spent in Padua, so he has come to be associated with that city. As for his position as patron saint of lost things—and also of travelers and watermen—well, perhaps that derives from his having been lost at sea, yet having nevertheless reached his destination, both physically and spiritually, in the end.

So, the next time you misplace those car keys, try this:

Something’s lost that can’t be found
Please, St. Anthony, look around.

Maybe it will be useful this summer if you’re traveling without GPS.

Company for Breakfast


Sometimes when we have breakfast outside, a mockingbird lands on the Japanese maple in front of the house, then hops down to the porch flower box and eyes our plates. After an offering of scone or toast, he/she flies off with it, then returns for more. I wonder if there are little ones in a nearby nest? One morning I had my sketchbook with me.