Monday, November 12, 2007


Amid the fall colors in a year promised to underwhelm due to the dearth of summer rains, the Albemarle countryside and Monticello shimmered. It may be that the recent spate of precipitation allowed the resplendence of yellows and reds to fill the rural vistas despite the gloomy predictions. Monticello, a house visited by a broad assortment of license plates and tour buses even on a sleepy Sunday in early November, amazes even after previous visits. In a time before a "grid", when the farm, in this case a Virginia plantation, was the center of civilized and therefore American life, Monticello is a reminder of how day-to-day life was. The home and grounds relay the history of the quotidian, a break from the history of battles and proclamations. Jefferson, through clever design and the application of his book learning, built a house and farm that ideally could sustain itself. Of course it was maintained with slave labor and when Jefferson died Monticello was mired in debts, but the core idea still remains. With the proper application of technology, even that without petroleum input, civilization can proceed. In a time of rising oil prices, recession talk from the Fed chairman, and fears about global warming, Monticello serves as an unrealized ideal, unrealized then as it is now, of an agrarian America, content in the fruits of its fields, its ingenuity, and its flourishing ideas.

$15 buys access to the grounds and a guided tour of the house. If a C-ville resident or student brings a guest, admittance is free.

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