Saturday, September 18, 2021
Like many others, we have been watching the COVID news to see if it’s still safe to attend events, or even if they will still be held. Optimistic, we ordered our tickets last month. We drove from Baltimore to Frederick, Maryland today. The 6th Annual PawPaw Fest was held this afternoon.
The pawpaw grows best in shaded, moist lowlands and floodplain soils. The leaves and stems contain a compound that can repel deer and rabbit. Too bad it won’t grow here! On the other hand, the compound is good for the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars that dine exclusively on the pawpaw leaves.
Pawpaws don’t generally ripen after picking, but when ripe they only last a few days before getting mushy. These traits make it difficult to ship to other parts of the country. That’s why we had to travel to Frederick, Maryland to find out for ourselves just what the fuss is all about.
But, on the way from Baltimore, we visited the Monocacy National Battlefield, just south of Frederick. Three years into the Civil War, Confederate General Jubal Early was pressing towards Washington, DC, and set up a position at Frederick. Union troops were sent to Monacacy to try to stop Jubal’s advance. Federal forces were outnumbered; they were defeated and forced to retreat. However, this battle slowed Jubal down, allowing Federal troops time to reinforce their numbers outside the Capital, enough to repel Jubal. So, in spite of the defeat at Monocacy, it was considered a strategic victory for the North, and was referred to as “The Battle That Saved Washington.”
The battlefield included several farm fields at the time of the war, and much of the area is still farmland today. The Visitor’s Center has a model of the battlefield along with a narrative that explains how the battle progressed throughout the day. Very interesting!
The Pawpaw Festival took place at Long Creek Permaculture Haven, home to several eco-zones. Mushrooms, nuts and medicinal herbs are grown here. The center of the haven is a house that was built in 2016, a circular home that makes use of its surroundings and the environment.
There were several varieties of pawpaw to sample, all of them delicious. There are subtle differences, with some tasting more sweet, some more mellow. We even tried some pawpaw ice cream. We purchased a few to eat, and plan to bring the seeds home to Minnesota. Whether or not they will grow there remains to be seen.
After visiting the festival, we stopped at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick. The museum has over 5,000 artifacts in its collection, only a fraction of which are actually on display. Here we were able to learn more about how injured soldiers were evacuated from the battlefield, the operations of a field hospital, and how innovations during the Civil War impacted health practices going forward. While we may think that the medicine was primitive, it was actually technologically current for that era. Unfortunately, the concept of germs was not accepted at the time, and many infections resulted from the unsanitary conditions. In fact, of the over 600,000 soldiers who died during the war, two-thirds died of disease, only one-third died of their wounds.
Tomorrow, Harpers Ferry.