“Sanctuary” is a highly politicized term, but let’s look at the oxforddictionaries.com definition: a place of “refuge or safety,” or “a nature reserve.”
This area will lose a sanctuary in December when the National Park Service closes Claude Moore Colonial Farm, a little pocket of nature in McLean, wedged beside the George Bush Center for Intelligence.
It’s not Williamsburg. You pay $5, then step on to a dirt path and into the 18th century. Open fields, a tobacco barn, turkeys roaming freely, a split-rail fence enclosing pigs — and look for the piglets who slip under the rail. Wind around to the homestead, a one-room cabin. Children chase chickens, the women in colonial dress greet you cheerfully. “Where are you from, neighbor?” “Arlington.” “Oh, and is that a distance?” Because Arlington wasn’t established until 1801, and the time warp at Claude Moore is 1771.
The volunteers and staff at Claude Moore have, for many years, entertained and educated area schoolchildren. My son interned there, feeding the heritage animals. Festivals demonstrate the crafts and practices of 1771 America. And there is breathing room. A chance to put aside the 21st century and realize how people lived before this country officially started. What comfort was in a one-room cabin without running water. How a living was made in a wilderness where the land was your grocery store. How neighbors were welcomed. While it is the 11th hour, I encourage readers to visit the farm and put in a word to keep it open.
Laura Armstrong, Arlington