October 15, 2016

Pumpkins, Pokeberries and Poison, Oh My!

Whether I want to believe it or not, last weekend marked the end of the 2016 open museum season.  Of course we'll all be back for special and seasonal programming on the weekends, but, for most part, my time travels are to be packed up and stored 'till next time, next year.  It makes one misty-eyed...especially when you spend every waking moment there, be it in person, or in spirit as you stitch and research to improve your interpretation.
Alas, all good things must come to an end.

Dyeing with Pokeberries

Pulling the pokeberry-dyed yarn out of the pumpkin!
Photograph courtesy of Judy J.

Lucky for me, the last weekend ended on a high note.  Saturday, I had the chance to return to Kieffer after a couple week hiatus.  Throughout the summer, the interpretation there focuses on midwifery and fiber arts (dyeing, tape loom weaving and spinning on a great wheel); and, having been relatively recently introduced to Culpeper's Complete Herbal, I do hope that there will be more adventures at Kieffer to come.  This time, I had the chance to interpret the annual attraction of the poisonous pokeberries in the pumpkin!

Photograph courtesy of Judy J.

It really was a lot of fun, and not just because there was poison and pumpkins involved, though it is almost the Halloween season...In the morning, I assembled a small display of a few of the red and purple yarns that were dyed this year (mainly cochineal, logwood, madder root and Brazilwood), the jar of cochineal beetles (and a lump of indigo), and the pumpkin, of course!  Throw in a toasty fire, a few candles and some mischief with a fellow interpreter, and you have the makings for a fantastic day.

My dye table display including a range of reds and purples
(dyed with cochineal, logwood, madder root and Brazilwood),
a jar of cochineal beetles (and an indigo lump),
and the pokeberry dye in the pumpkin!

And that it was!  The visitors, including a few girl scout troops, just could not be beat as they were all very curious and eagerly engaged.  I spoke all day about the 19th century dye process, specifically about dyeing (or shall I say staining, because it's fugitive) with pokeberries.  (I've written about dyeing with pokeberries before in Pokeberries & Pumpkins, a post from 2014, and check out Deanna Berkemeier's (GCV&M's lead interpreter of domestic skills) article: It is the pokeberry time of year!)  Also in my presentations, I spoke about our village's dye program (giving a nod to my past internship and our upcoming Domestic Symposium) and several other dyes our ancestors used to produce brilliant reds and purples.

A Night at Hosmer's Inn

The dressmaker & a new friend keeping me company at Hosmer's Inn.
Seriously one of my favorite buildings to work in this season,
as I not only had fun with the guests playing Mrs. Hosmer,
but was permitted to host daily teas for visiting interpreters!

That night, we had the second to last Hosmer dinner of the season.  Following such a great day, it's hard to believe that it could get any better.  But, that dinner was honestly the best dinner experiences of the season.  I not only had the chance to give the first person, upstairs-downstairs tour of Hosmer's Inn, but the village tour as well.  (A note to the ladies that night - I did my best to keep both tours to an hour each, but you ladies know how much I love to talk history ;)  I think the village tour was only an hour and a half at Hamilton and Livingston-Backus...haha)

Anyways, the entire group of guests were just so wonderful.  For most of them, this was the first time they had ever visited, and some of them came from quite a few states away to attend.  (Maryland, Ohio...)  No matter what we did, they were jovial, willing to play along and impressed with their experience.  I will miss hostessing or tour guiding for the dinners in the off season.  This year, both roles came so naturally, no doubt thanks to my friends that make up the Hosmer team and all of the research I've been doing this season.

One Last Time

My view from behind the confectionery counter.

Columbus Day, our official closing day for the regular museum season, meant one last day in the shop for me.  We did well at the confectionery - the apple and pear hand pies, teacakes, gingerbreads with caramel icing and lemon 1-2-3-4 cakes practically flew off the shelf.  Baking all of the goods is a labor of love, and I was fortunate to play a small role behind the confectionery counter this season.

Before we wrapped this past weekend up, my partner-in-crime and I had to have one last adventure of the season...which may or may not have included Hamilton's hydrocrystalophone, pranking a few fellow interpreters, chocolate, a short road trip...but we'll never tell!

Thank you for letting me be a part of your summer adventures, Judy!

Another season has come and gone...but the memories last forever.

If only I could don the clothing and interpret history for the rest of my life.  Every time a visitor comments on how enthusiastic, or how well-read, or how they can tell that I am in the right job, I take it to heart.  I feel a passion for interpreting the past like no other, and I've come to love the Genesee Country Village like nothing else.

Photograph courtesy of Stephen S.

All that's left to say now is a thank you for all of the good times, 
& 'till we meet again in the 2017 season. 


  1. Oh Anneliese! The pictures of this time of year at the GCV take my breath away! I am so jealous that you get/got to play/work here this past summer! What a wonderful experience! I love the colors that yarns were dyed...so beautiful and that they were dyed in a pumpkin! Too cool! What a super fabulous time and I would have loved to attend one of your teas...even though it was for those who worked there! Too fun!

    1. If you ever find yourself up here, do let me know! I'd have a special tea just for you...It would be a dream come true to get to meet you in person! :D