After several months of pain, caused by inflamed tendons that left my thumb frozen and looking as if ready for take-off in the “locked and upright position”, failed therapy and cortisone injections (think medieval torture by thumb-screws), the agony being at last relieved with a 10-minute surgical procedure, I was more than eager to greet spring with a day trip to Monticello, the former home of President Thomas Jefferson.
Near Charlottesville, Virginia, the former 5000-acre plantation sits high on a hill, a tranquil oasis with sweeping views of rolling waves in varying shades of green.
Only days after surgery, my thumb still tender, swollen and in need of babying, friend Dave took pity on me and played chauffeur. After a 2 ½ hour ride through the rolling Virginia countryside we arrived mid-day, just in time for a garden tour.
The April day was perfect: sunshine in a cornflower-blue, cloudless sky, cool air, free from humidity and not a pesky mosquito anywhere in sight. Most trees were still in bud or early flowering stages. Leslie, our guide, led us past a small pond built centuries ago to hold fish until ready for cooking. Mixes of various flowers – Virginia bluebells, peonies, tulips and forget-me-nots filled flower plots. In the early 1800’s Jefferson’s garden plan included twenty ornamental flower beds designed to anchor the corners of the mansion. Each bed was home to a single type of flower. Trees, however, were Jefferson’s primary passion. Leslie spoke of his successes and failures and the many varieties on the estate.
Thriving in the kitchen gardens were cool season vegetables: asparagus, lettuce, kale and broccoli. Born long ago of a prolonged, difficult and painful labor, the terraced gardens were the result of a 2-year project of digging, moving and soaking the earth with the sweat and blood of slaves (a subject I’ll return to in a later post).
At the end of the 45-minute tour we headed to the mansion to view the inside of Jefferson’s hill-top sanctuary. All the while I cradled my hand, unconsciously protecting it from any mishaps.
I’ve not yet fully recovered and soon the right thumb will need fixing also, reason enough to limit today’s post. But I can’t wait to return to Monticello in fall of this year. In the meantime, I’ll let photos do the talking.
(All photos taken by healthy-hands friend, Dave)