Friday, June 8, 2012
Summer at Plum Grove
Plum Grove is nestled off a main traffic artery in residential Iowa City. Beyond the entrance, the property, shaded with mature oaks and fruit trees and a spanse of lawn, has an immediate air of serenity. An elegant red-bricked Greek revival home stands sentry near the middle of the four acres. Birds, squirrels, and rabbits contentedly forage around the unexpectedly large green sanctuary.
One can time travel here. The founders of Iowa City were wise to protect this small parcel of regional heritage. Iowa’s first governor Robert Lucas, along with his wife Friendly and their family lived at Plum Grove in the mid 1800’s. History and archaeology tell us quite a lot about what the property was like then. The Johnson County Historical Society have done an admirable preservation job in interpreting this record for us.
I’m enchanted with Plum Grove. It was here when the tallgrass prairie still lapped against the edge of town. I love the surprising vastness of the site, and always have a peek inside the house with all it’s to-the-period furnishings. Somehow, it still feel very much like a home.
I connect with Friendly. We know she had a kitchen garden, most people did in these days. There was also a plum orchard with many kinds of heirloom varieties. I like to think of Friendly walking the grove on a mid-summer night’s eve. It is humid but she’s used to it. She’s wearing a long dress of the day. She’s thinking about the preserves she’ll make from the basketful of plums at her hip. The preserves will be a sweet surprise for her family on some January morning. One last yellow gage should do it. Time to light the lanterns. Robert will be home soon.
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