Journals have a way of capturing moments of time that we can relive in our hearts. My name is Traci Fannin Poole, and I’ve been an orientation and sites interpreter for almost six years. Below, I invite you to take a peek into my personal journal as I share a few excerpts that comprise a year of my life as a 21st-century colonist in the 18th-century colonial capital.
Winter is the time when our bustling little city becomes quiet. Chimneys bellow with smoke, cardinals stand out in contrast against the colorless skies, and a few town folks make their way down Duke of Gloucester to their assignments. Each colonist is dressed in their warmest clothes, with heads bent, trying their best to keep the bonnets from blowing away. I am greeted with their warm smiles and a hearty, “Good morning!” I bid them farewell and made my way down the street to catch up with my other colleagues to begin our winter training. A new year has started, and it is unfolding before me. I wonder what surprises this year will bring for me!
Suddenly, our quiet little town is coming to life. Before my eyes, winter has vanished, and spring has finally returned. The trees are budding green while the brightly colored tulips and daffodils dot the backyards of the homes. I saw a pair of blue birds tending their nest and a young woman opens the window at the Golden Ball to make casual conversation with a passerby. At the Wigmaker, children dressed in colonial outfits joyfully go inside. The school children follow a young woman whose laughter is matched with them. Whether it is a woman pouring hot molten pewter into a mold at the Foundry, or a man sewing away at the Tailors, each child is taken back in time. We have baby lambs! Our mares will be having their babies soon!
As I walked toward palace green, I stopped to watch the carriages make their way down the street. The clopping of the horses always makes me smile. As the carriages approached me, I smiled wide because I recognized the teams. Jerry and Cavalier were leading the stage wagon while Brigadier and General were leading the blue carriage. The carriages were holding guests in beautiful silk gowns and costumes. They are attending the Palace Garden Party! I curtsied and wished them a fabulous evening in the palace gardens. I hope to attend next year!
I pass the Lumber House, I pause for a moment and realize summer is now upon us. I look down the Palace Green and see the families having picnics, children playing a friendly game of catch, babies taking their first steps, and couples celebrating their engagement. A small band of children gathered around a very stately man. The man is poised on a very beautiful white horse. General Washington has grabbed the attention of the little children. I am sure the Lady Washington is looking for her husband. This happens most often when she is rushed to another engagement.
Familiar voices and laughter make me turn around. I am greeted by the warm smile from Kate of the Raleigh Tavern. We exchange salutations and she is off to another part of our city. Perhaps she is making her way to Market House to see Ms. Cumbo. Wherever my friend is headed, the sun is sure to follow. A cart being pushed by a young man, who works at the Market House is headed towards the auction tent. There is talk of the town of an auction and I am confident to say there will be fine wares to be had. It is a fine day for the reading of the Declaration of Independence. The crowds of people begin to appear which means Mr. Jefferson is in the city. I hear wine is one of his favorite drinks.
The bells of Bruton Parish Church are ringing loud and clear. I am reminded how quickly time passes. The leaves are turning colors of gold, red, and brown. The squirrels are busy gathering and preparing for their winter's sleep. Orange pumpkins line the steps of the homes and the smell of autumn is in the air.
I suppress a giggle because I know before too long, Haunting on DoG Street will soon begin. Children dressed in costumes of their favorite characters. Laughter from the children are echoing through the street as each one makes their way to the next colonist. Even the horses are painted up in style for this festive occasion. I wonder if Blackbeard will make his yearly appearance. Afterall, tales of ghostly embodiments are often spun around hearth fires.
Another smile has crept past my lips and as I take a moment to look up, I hear Christmas music in the background. I look around and notice the beautiful wreaths hang on the doors of the homes, candles lit in the windows, and the smell of ginger cakes are in the air. The warmth of the hot cider feels good against my hands as I watch people ice skating. The lighting of the tree welcomes the joyful noise of the Fife and Drum. The flames from the cressets cast shadows on the homes. The sounds of fireworks light the dark skies, people pointing to the Capital, and the warmth of joy surrounds all of us. Christmas carolers are singing in the distance. I take a moment to remember my friends who paid their debt to nature. If I listen carefully, I can hear their voices in my memories. I bow my head to give thanks to them. They will always be a part of me.
My walk ends at Merchants Square, I look over my shoulder just one more time before I cross the street. I see my friends, who are part of the 18th century. I hear their laughter echo in the dusk. I take a moment to hold onto these precious memories. I allow the sun to go down on my shoulders, I know the moon will rise, and the stars will shine bright against the dark skies. I also know another year has passed and a new one will begin. I extend my invitation to you and I hope to see you soon!
Traci Fannin Poole is an orientation and sites interpreter. Affectionately known at the “Pewter Lady,” she’s been with the Foundation for almost six years.