Medic garden at Shaker Village

Yarrow, the tag tells me, repels insects and is used for yellow dye. I'm visiting the cool cellar exhibits in the Centre Family Dwelling at Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, and perusing the rack of dried plants. Medicinal plants are growing in orderly rows just outside the building. There's comfrey, tansy, boneset, white and yellow yarrow, lavendar, and many more. The bees are going crazy at the purple comfrey flowers. A skipper butterfly enjoys the yarrow.

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill was a high point of my recent road trip. Living history demonstrations of spinning, weaving, and laundering were intriguing. The Shaker beliefs speaker was outstanding. I came away wanting to know more about this sect's beliefs. Mostly, I soaked up the Shaker aesthetic of spirituality, simplicity, craftsmanship as meditation, and a peaceful feeling of breathing space. Efficiency and energy are everywhere evident, but nothing is cluttered or crowded. There is space for the spirit, and spirit in the place.

The West Family Wash House

Yellow was an important color to the Shakers. Each building was painted according to its function. Farm barns and corn cribs were charcoal black or red. Work buildings were painted golden yellow. Dwellings were cream-colored. The spiritual meeting house was white.

© 2009 Nancy L. Ruder

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