Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Little Down Time. . .

I visited with my sisters this past weekend for a much needed break from the writing and nursing bizz. While I was there, we visited Shakertown, and you can't get much further from the computer age than that--or from any form of romance.



















As you may know, the Shakers were a religious community who believed in simplicity and chastity. Separated from the world, they were very forward thinking in their attitudes toward the equality of the races and sexes and their pacifism, as well as their agricultural innovations and superb craftsmanship.




















This particular colony at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky was begun in 1805 and endured through the Civil War until officially closing in 1910. I guess it's hard to keep a religion going on converts alone, and it's my opinion that the chastity thing was probably their undoing--it kinda helps to breed more members. Everything looks wonderfully peaceful and serene, but I wonder if there wasn't a bit of the usual conflict that occurs when people try to live together in harmony.




















My elder sister was once a weaver, but I'm not sure she would have wanted to spin her own wool, though I could be wrong about that. Sitting at a loom or a spinning wheel was probably a good form of meditation, or a good time to daydream, though I have to wonder what the Shakers would have dreamed about.





















I'm sure I would have enjoyed working in the herb garden and in this room, which must have smelled heavenly when the herbs were being processed, just as my own kitchen does when I do it at home. There's just something about growing your own medicine that appeals to me, and the Shakers were famous for their herbs.




















The rest of the time I would have been out hobnobbing with the horses--along with my younger sister who has always been a bit of a horse nut. She's now a dairy farmer, and I'm sure her ability to work hard would have been appreciated by the Shakers.

I know this looks like this horse was very affectionate, but she was actually trying to eat my map of the village!

















We finished our tour of the grounds with a stop by the lake. All in all, a very peaceful afternoon revisiting a much simpler time and place. I probably could have been happy living there--except for that celibacy thing. . . Not sure I could have done that. . .





















In the end, I didn't sign on as a member, or even aspire to being one of the people who pretend to be Shakers. I just bought one of their brooms. ;-)


24 comments:

  1. Awesome photos. I've never even heard of the Shakers before. And yeah, the celibacy thing would have been the end of it for me, too.

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  2. Cheryl, Thank you for the mini-vacation! Your photos of Shakertown were beautiful and very serene--I too could have loved the herb room, and like your sister, I found a meditative peace in crafts like sewing and weaving. The celibacy would have been a deal-breaker for me too. Glad you had a good time, glad you're back!

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  3. Yeah, that celibacy thing would have tripped you up for sure, Cheryl. It would definitely de-rail your writing career!

    Glad you got the chance for some down time!

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  4. Like I said, I'm pretty sure that no sex thing was their undoing. It might work for a while, but human nature being what it is, it would probably get the best of you eventually. At one point this was a thriving community of 500 people. Can you imagine having 250 men to choose from and not even THINK about it?????

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  5. Looks like a less wild time than Nashville, Cheryl! Hope you enjoyed the break!

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  6. Yeah, no tequila on this trip, Marie. I was the designated driver the whole weekend!

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  7. Great Pictures. The Shakers remind me of the Amish. I'm going to visit again in two weeks. Yes Celibacy would have been a deal breaker for all of us. I don't suppose you left them a book of yours.

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  8. The Shakers often adopted orphans to grow their numbers. I'm a Centre College of Kentucky alumni and we often went to Shakertown for a break from campus or for dinner on a special date. When my husband and were stationed at Ft. Knox, KY, we traveled down to Danville and then Pleasant Hill. A Civil War Cavalry reenactment group was there that day, performing. What a treat!

    Thanks for the pictures, Cheryl, and the memories.

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  9. Wow that place looks quite interesting. I've always liked historical places but I never really get to visit them much. The celibacy thing though? Um wow that's dedication but I guess it wasn't such a big deal back then?

    The horse did look like he was eating your map XD Nice broom by the way.

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  10. Cheryl, wow, great pictures. Thanks for sharing. Yes, I'm sure the celibacy thing was their undoing. Too bad, the community they tried to create looks so peaceful and serene. It's wonderful that the state has taken care of the area so we can enjoy it's historical value. I've always wanted to visit the Amish. I love their furniture. So simple, but gorgeous in it's simplicity.

    How lovely to have had a weekend with your sisters. Make's me miss mine and wish she wasn't so far away!

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  11. Fascinating post, and great photos!

    Helen
    www.helensheroes.blogspot.com

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  12. Donna,
    The Shakers had a lifestyle similar to the Amish, but the Amish have an advantage in that they don't have to rely on orphans and converts to increase their numbers! And, no, I didn't leave them any books!

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  13. Silver James
    I would have liked to have had lunch at the restaurant there, but we just bought a sandwich--which was quite good, BTW!--and had a picnic on a bench by the fence where I took that first photograph. Very peaceful!

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  14. Ana,
    Apparently a New York Shaker by the name of Theodore Bates perfected the current broom design by flattening the original style that had been in use since the dark ages. They grew their own broomstraw there at Pleasant Hill, but the reproductions are now made from straw imported from Mexico. You'd think with all the brooms in use in this country that it would be profitable to grow it here, wouldn't you?

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  15. Hi Lisa!
    Shakertown is actually owned and maintained by a non-profit corporation, not the state, which is even more noteworthy.

    I don't see my sisters very often--we only get together once or twice a year since my father died, but we're trying to do better. Marcy and I stay in touch through the Internet, mostly. Now if I could just get Bonnie on Facebook....

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  16. Thanks, Helen! I think the pictures convey the serenity of the place without any photographic expertise whatsoever on my part. The feeling just comes through, no matter what.

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  17. Cheryl,
    I'm not sure, but if I had to spin my own wool to make my clothes, go to the garden to get the food to cook or skin it and clean it after my husband shot it... well after all that...celibacy might sound like the way to end a hard day of work! :-)

    Amelia

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  18. GREAT Piccies, Cheryl!

    Sounds like a wonderful, relaxing vacation. I've never been to a Shaker community either, but the Amish are very interesting and as you say, similar. All GREAT fodder for future stories, right?

    AC

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  19. I don't know, Amelia. If I had to do all of that, I think I'd want a little payback....

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  20. LOL, Cindy! A Zetithian Shaker? Or a former Shaker seduced away from the community by a Zetithian? Hmmm... Might be something there....

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  21. Cheryl~

    I weave and spin, and yes, they are both very relaxing and meditative once the loom is threaded that is. Whenever I'm so tense I just can't relax, I sit at my spinning wheel and create something fabulous. My last creation was spinning hand-dyed angora goat locks in jewel tones (making it variegated) and then plyed it with a beautiful purple cormo wool that was so soft, you I just wanted to sleep in it.

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  22. What a lovely place. I had heard of them, but never managed to picture what their lives might be like.

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  23. Sounds quite luscious, Robin! Glad you have a way to relax. We all need that now and then.

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  24. Sheila,
    I'd never been to Shakertown before, though just about everyone else in my family has been there a couple of times. The peace just surrounds you. It's well worth a visit.

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