Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader grew up in an area that was, once upon a time, part of the large land holdings of George Washington. Your Maximum Leader lived close to Mount Vernon and in a strange way thought of Washington as something of a neighbor. A neighbor with a large house with a great view (among other things).
(NB: In high school your Maximum Leader had classmates who worked summers at Mount Vernon. He was often able to use these connections to “sneak” into the estate on beautiful summer days and waste away time sitting on Washington’s yard watching the river roll by.)
So why is your Maximum Leader bringing this up now?
Well, a few days ago (in fact on the first of the month) your Maximum Leader mentioned that his good buddy Mark had won an essay contest sponsored by the Ladies Association of Mount Vernon (the owners and maintainers of Washington’s estate - and memory). As a winner Mark was invited to come to Mount Vernon and be schooled in all things Washington and Mount Vernon. Well, by pre-arrangement, your Maximum Leader went to visit his buddy after the day’s programs ended. It was late (after 9:30pm in fact); but a visit with Mark is always a good time. So, after having a drink and some oysters in Alexandria, we returned to the estate.
We entered through a side gate and went to a complex your Maximum Leader had never seen. Apparently the estate keeps a number of fair-sized “houses” on the grounds to house people who are participating in educational programs (like Mark, the Smallholder) or, one supposes, donors who would like a special perk… In addition to staying on the grounds, Mark was invested with a pass that allowed him to walk the grounds at all hours (provided, of course, that he didn’t attempt to enter any building and otherwise behaved himself). Armed with this pass, Mark took your Maximum Leader to do something he’d never done before…
Now, over the course of his life, your Maximum Leader has been able to go many places in Mount Vernon that others normally don’t go. He’s been up to the third floor of the mansion and seen the bedrooms and storage rooms up there. He’s also climbed up to the cupola and looked out of it at the Potomac and the estate. It is pretty fun… But last night he got a treat he’d never expected to get.
Mark and your Maximum Leader wandered the grounds at midnight. There wasn’t another soul about. It was wonderful.
One often never stops to think how a place might be other than the times at which you are used to seeing it. Your Maximum Leader always associates daylight and other people with being at Mount Vernon. But it is a different experience in the dead of night. It is quiet. Real quiet save for the wind and noise of insects. And that there are no other people around gives it a completely unusual feeling. It was very cool.
Your Maximum Leader snapped a few pictures on his iPhone. Sadly, he didn’t know how to adjust the settings to make the photos better than they are. But he did try to lighten them up a little for your viewing pleasure…
And in case you are interested, you can click here to see the daytime view of the first image (big picture) or you can click here to see the daytime view of the second image.
Your Maximum Leader will remember this visit for a very very long time. Thanks Mark!