A few weeks ago, a group of writers from my local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers took a field trip to break up our usual schedule of monthly meetings inside a conference room—a chance to see and do something different and to get outside on a beautiful Minnesota summer day. This year we went to visit an historic house in Taylors Falls, a fun river town some 30-40 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, where most of us live. Not every member of our chapter was interested in seeing an old house (though two speculative/fantasy writers did attend—I was impressed). But along with guests, friends, and family, there were 16 of us who toured the house together and then later went out for ice cream.
The Folsom House is the former home of a lumber magnate and politician, built in 1850 and full of original furnishings. Even though it is not from the specific time period or setting in which I write (early 1800s England) I think there is always something to learn and appreciate wherever we go.
Our tour guide was enthusiastic and clearly loved having a group of note-taking, photo-snapping writers to talk to. We peppered him with questions and he obligingly showed us more of the collection and went into more detail than he normally would.
(I felt sorry for the family with a young child who happened to show up when we did and joined us for our tour. I think they would have preferred the shorter, less detailed version. :))
I’m sure we each took away something different from the day–a few choice morsels of research or interesting artifacts that stood out for us.
Here are a few that stood out for me:
A mustache cup—gents could drink coffee and tea without it soaking into their mustaches.
A hair saver and hair art—yes, people saved hair from their combs and brushes and then later had jewelry and art made from it.
Blueberry buttermilk paint—the floors were covered in the original paint made from these natural ingredients and still wearing well today.
Desk with mirror—to reflect and augment candle light.
Treasures (letters and newspaper clippings) still being discovered within the pages of old books—yes, that will find its way into a Klassen novel one day. 🙂
Along with the research, I enjoyed spending time with fellow writers. The day was even more fun because my summer intern (my first) joined us along with her parents. Anna is a college student and writer-in-the-making, who offered to help me do some research, etc. this summer. In fact, in two weeks we will have a guest post from Anna describing what it was like to work as an author’s assistant. Stop back to find out!
In the meantime… Been on any “field trips” lately? Visited anyplace new and interesting? Do share!