Spring Frolic at the Old Stone House

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 3, 2009

By Susan Shinn
The arrival of April means more sunny days ahead.
A sunny day is in the forecast for Saturday, so take advantage of the beautiful weather and visit the Old Stone House for Colonial Spring Frolic.
This is the time of year for the traditional opening of the house, built by Michael Braun in 1766.
For the first time, a daylong celebration is planned, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost for Colonial Spring Frolic is $4 for adults and $2 for children.
In addition to the usual house tours, crafts, musket firing, woodworking, weaving and candlemaking that take place during the house’s Christmas celebration, the frolic features new events as well.
Children can dye Easter eggs with natural dyes. Visitors can watch spinning and tatting demonstrations done upstairs in the Braun house, or stroll down to the creek (be sure to wear your walking shoes) to see a creekside campsite.
Kaye Brown Hirst, Rowan Museum’s executive director, and Susan Waller, board member and volunteer extraordinaire, have had a ball coming up with Easter egg dyes that colonial families may have used.
An array of eggs they brought to the Post earlier in the week showed off delicate colors of reds, blues, yellows, greens and browns.
The women used beets, violets, onion peels, turmeric, tea leaves, red cabbage ó even chickweed to come up with beautiful pastel shades.
“It’s a very inexact science,” Waller said. “You never know what color you’re gonna get. If you don’t like what you get, stick it in another color.”
Waller called those who lived in colonial times “the original recyclers.”
They’ll use turkey feathers dipped in melted beeswax to help children write their names on the eggs if they choose.
Hirst is excited about showing off the house in a different season.
“We’ve done fall harvest events,” Hirst said, in addition to the annual Christmas at the Old Stone House event. “We just thought we would do something different.”
She added, “We’ll have full sunshine on Saturday. It’s just brighter down there now.”
Like other homes, the house has received a good spring cleaning and the property has been spruced up.
The lawn is full and green. Redbud trees are blooming, as well as May apples and trillium. Even unusual fiddlehead ferns may be found on the property.
“That would’ve been the first fresh food of spring,” Waller said.
“We just want folks, when they come to the Old Stone House, to take away with them an indelible experience,” Hirst said, “whether it’s the tour of the house, the smells and tastes of the open-fire cooking, dyeing an egg, learning to spin several inches of yarn, dipping a candle.
“We just know that the more sensory an experience, the more memorable it will be.”
For this event, open-fire cooking will feature tastings of scrag-end soup ó the leftover part of the ham which will also include carrots, beans, cabbage and dandelion greens.
Since rosemary cookies were a big hit at Christmastime, Hirst plans to bake up another batch featuring rosemary from the stone house’s garden.
Be sure and keep your eyes open for other signs of spring.
“According to legend,” Waller said, “if we need a hoppy toad, we can kick our shoes off.”
The Old Stone House is located a half-mile down Old Stone House Road off U.S. 52 in Granite Quarry. The Colonial Spring Frolic is sponsored by Susan and Edward Norvell and Dr. Martha K. West. For more information, call Rowan Museum at 704-633-5946.