Monday, February 21, 2011

february 21, 1811 (thur.)

This business trip to Poplar Forest keeps dragging on. Nothing is resolved. Mr. Jefferson's wheat is still at the mill, still unground. The mill dam has broken a second time, and then, as a result, Mr. Calloway, the miller, went bankrupt. Now someone else owns the mill, but he still has to fix it. Mr. Jefferson, usually a cheerful man, is beginning to feel rather glum. Because of the unexpected nature of the situation, and the fact that it's in the worst time of year for traveling, he's here alone. (Except for the enslaved servants, who are, of course, ever present, but don't provide true companionship.)

He thinks of his grandson, Francis, staying at Monticello, because his papa, a U.S. Representative from Virginia, thinks that the family should wait until after the winter to travel to Washington, D.C. What a shame to be stuck here, wasting precious time he could be with the boy.

He thinks of his granddaughter, Anne. She and her husband are thinking of moving to land they have here in Bedford County. It would be nice to have them nearby. Mr. Jefferson would like to plant some asparagus, gooseberries, and raspberries for her, but with temperatures dipping down below freezing at night, this hasn't been possible. It was below freezing during the day a couple of days ago, too, and even when it's not that cold, it's been hovering at that wet, chilly temperature that gets into the bones and feels miserable. Repeated snows, and melted snow, and half-melted slush have made the roads impassible.

Add to the isolation the fact that the post from Lynchburg to Milton, near Monticello, goes out only once a week. He'll write Martha again when it does, in a few days. No sense in writing any letters now. He shifts in his chair so that the waning firelight falls on the open pages of his book.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

february 9, 1811 (sat.)

Mr. Jefferson is back at Poplar Forest. He had to return unexpectedly last week because of some business there. He had left his wheat to be ground at Mr. Calloway's mill, but the mill's dam has broken. It was supposed to have been fixed yesterday, but now it looks like the mill won't be able to start up again until the day after tomorrow. In the meantime, Mr. Jefferson's wheat, and that of several neighbors, languishes in limbo.