A Bee in My Bonnet

Coming up with unique and substantive blog content tends to be terribly time-consuming. Combine that with the current chatter about blogging being dead in the water and you end up with a recipe for melancholy, or at least writer’s ennui.

But sometimes life throws you a plum, a reason to take up the plume again and plunge forward.

Last week, I went to Jamestown, Virginia for the first time, even though I’ve lived in the state for over 23 years. We camped near the beach, over at Cape Henry, where the Jamestown settlers first landed in April 1607, about an hour away by road from Jamestown. What a thrill, honestly, to stroll the grounds where the first settlers walked. We have so little physical history (extant buildings, etc.) dating to centuries past here in the United Stated, compared to the rest of the world. Hence the reason for Jamestown being particularly magnetic.

My journey to Jamestown actually began 9 years ago. I’d been involved with planning a 2007 conference to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding in 1607, “From Jamestown to the Blue Ridge,” focused on the culinary history of the place and its contributions to American cooking. Unfortunately, due to the tragic and senseless massacre here at Virginia Tech (VT) on April 16, 2007, we had to cancel it. Prior to setting up the conference, I’d done a lot of research and discovered that some of my paternal grandmother’s family lived in Jamestown before 1616, and were designated “Ancient Planters!” To think that I carry in my DNA that of people who came over here in tiny wooden ships!

A caveat before I proceed any further: I realize that by claiming these ancestors that I am also complicit by blood in the processes that deprived Native Americans and Africans of their freedom and more. Yes, some of my ancestors owned slaves later on.

Make no mistake, money and greed and politics drove the Jamestown venture. It all came about because of the investors and political supporters of the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock company founded in 1606. In The Jamestown Project, Karen Ordahl Kupperman sums it up just right: “Jamestown was not just the earliest English colony to survive; its true priority lies in its inventing the archetype of English colonization.” (p. 3) Think India and the East India Company, for example.

When I read Kupperman’s statement, I found confirmation of my ideas about exile, applied to a situation that could serve very well as a case study of food, cultural clashes, and colonization.

Bee and butterfly
Photo credit: C. Bertelsen

© 2015 C. Bertelsen


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