Thanks for checking into my blog!

As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Right in my own back yard - sort of

    On a cold, winter’s evening, we approached the manor house up the oyster-shelled drive. We were greeted at the door by the house valet and our informally dressed host, Mr. George Calvert. Inside, the warmth of Riversdale Mansion was evident through a flurry of activity of hospitality. Invited to make ourselves at home, we retired to the parlor where we were entertained by a harpist playing period music. Alas, the pianoforte in the corner was silent. We then moved to the dining area where we enjoyed our hostess’ favorite cake recipe – it happens to be Martha Washington’s recipe. Slices were served with hot, mulled cider, a perfect addition on this cold evening. Afterward, we were at liberty to move about the house, touring room to room at our leisure. My fellow guests and I visited Mr. Calvert in his sanctuary, his study. We admired the mural wallpaper depiction of the French fox hunt that covered the walls. Our party then moved to the ballroom, to admire the portraits of the six Lords Baltimore. Too quickly went two hours at Riversdale Mansion in Riverdale Park, Maryland and our holiday evening with George and Rosalie Calvert.

    The Riversdale Historical Society and Prince Georges County Parks and Recreation open up Riversdale House for house tours each Friday and Sunday to anyone wishing to experience life in the early 19th century. At the Visitor’s Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 5, a visitor can examine the history of the plantation. A Terrapin Alumnus (like myself) can look into the home and life of Maryland Agricultural College (now known as University of Maryland, College Park) founder Charles Benedict Calvert. The budding Indiana Jones among us can learn of the archeological and historical research being used in the restoration of the site. Students of African American history can examine the life and work of Adam Francis Plummer, a slave who worked at Riversdale and kept a diary of daily life of the slaves on the plantation. Admission for this glimpse into life in 19th century Maryland is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors/groups, $1 for children 5 through 18, and children under 4 are free.

    Looking for something to do with the whole family? Look into one of the special events at Riversdale by visiting their website. Events such as “Tasting the Past: Heirloom Grains” allow guests the opportunity to learn about heirloom grains that were grown on the plantation, followed by a chance to taste historic recipes made from those grains. Gardeners may want to visit to tour the garden and orchard and enjoy demonstrations by the Kitchen Guild. Each season, the Kitchen Guild also hosts demonstrations of the foodways in the Dependency Kitchen. These demonstrations use the produce available in that season to 19th century farmers and show how these items were prepared “back in the day”. Plan on showing the children how food goes from ground to table by attending one of these demos.

    Need more information on Riversdale House Mansion? Check out their website through the Prince Georges County Parks and Recreation at www.pgpark.com/things to do/history. All events and costs are listed there. Take the slide show tour of the house. And I’ll see you there!

(Revision of the original article published in the Arden-on-the-Severn Newsbuoy, March 2011)

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