Canterbury Shaker Village was the destination yesterday. I was so distracted by the dramatic sky that I didn’t spend a lot of time wishing for a prettier day. Well, when it was raining on us and we were taking shelter under a crab apple tree I may have wished for a better day. But the porcupine in the tree was kind of fun, but he just plain wouldn’t say cheese so I don’t have his picture. And we munched on huckleberries that were growing on the apple tree like a trellis, so it wasn’t all bad. A sprinkle here and there was as bad as it got.
We took the guided tour of the village and that was well worth it. The volunteer guide was terrific, and it was quite amazing to hear of the accomplishments and work ethic of the Shakers. I was lamenting that I had been so distracted by the dramatic sky, which doesn’t always translate into great pictures, that I didn’t think I had taken any interior pictures. Thankfully there were a few.
The rest of these are just the grounds of the village. The members lived in dormitories. They were issued 120 garments each upon their arrival in the village. These were their only possessions. Their laundry facility was amazing. The Shakers invented the first washing machines and sold them to hotels and hospitals around the world. The garments were washed, dried, folded, and returned to the proper person by a system of baskets. They were delivered by the children of the village, to the proper building, identified by letter, room number, closet or drawer number, and the initials of the owner. Very efficient.
And if you are paying attention you may be wondering how a religious community that practiced celibacy managed to have children on the premises. Shakers took in orphans and educated them as well as trained them in trades. They were not automatically considered Shakers, because the belief was that you couldn’t make a decision as important as that one until the age of reason, age 17 – 21. The more I learned about this group the more I admired their practices. Each person worked at a job to benefit the whole, in 30 day shifts, and everyone rotated through every job required. In that way no one was stuck in the less pleasant jobs and these rules applied to everyone, including the elders of the village. The guide didn’t elaborate on the perceived benefits of celibacy, we’ll all have to ponder that one…