Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where the Buffalo Roam...into the Chili Pot

If I go to a lunchtime lecture, there will be unexpected benefits to doing so. There always are.

Today's at the Library of Virginia had the weighty tile "Bowden the Traitor: A Unionist Family in Colonial Williamsburg," but I was intrigued at the topic and noon is such a reasonable time to be lectured.

When the General Assembly is in session, there is no question but that I walk to the Library of VA since our hard-working state delegates get first dibs on the Library's parking garage. Which is fine, because it's barely over a mile from my house, making for a nothing of a walk, especially on a sunny day.

I've had nothing but tastiness at the Library's Positive Vibe Express, so lunch was going to be incorporated into learning. The buffalo chili called to me from the menu board, probably because I've never had it.

Chock full of buffalo meat, it also had a nice heat, although personally, I'd have upped the ante with more kidney beans and onions. Still, a satisfying bowl of lunch with a root beer and Saltines.

Don Gunther, a recently-retired Library of VA employee who promised to go back out to pasture after the talk, spoke about the Bowden family of Williamsburg and their refusal to join the Secessionists even as scores of Virginians around them did. That refusal resulted in much scorn being directed their way by locals.

Eventually, their grand house on Duke of Gloucester Street was appropriated (willingly, it should be noted) by Union troops and their farms confiscated for Union use. Hundreds of bushels of grain and countless livestock were taken for Union use.

Lemuel Bowden's mother was so upset with his pro-Union stance that she'd previously moved out of his house and into a nearby cottage to make her point. A cynical sort might see his stance as a way to escape the old bat.

I thought it was an interesting tale of a family's political activism which began in the Civil War and continued through the end of the century, but the 30-something guy in front of me fell asleep intermittently throughout the entire lecture, his head snapping up periodically. No judging here.

Walking home afterwards, Marshall Street was bustling with activity. A guy walked out of a space with the door propped open, looked at me and said, "You should come here and eat after next Thursday. We're opening a Caribbean restaurant. It's gonna be great! Will you come?" I love an engraved invitation.

A block up, a guy in a hearse rolled down his window and gave me a wolf whistle. I can't imagine that's appropriate funeral parlor protocol, with or without a corpse in the back, but I smiled back in thanks anyway.

It's true, you know; the rewards of seeking knowledge come from the most unexpected places.


  1. a single hot tortella... confronts hearse, voodoo and a wolf on a winter day...

    you're lucky to have made it back alive.