There are about a hundred tiny pre-Civil War-era towns surrounding the Washington, D.C. area. One of my favorites is Ellicott City, Maryland because once, years ago I went there with a colleague for a conference and he drove us. He was an odd little psychologist who refused to use a computer or drive on a freeway. And yes, it did take us about ten days to get to that conference, thank you for asking. But despite the fact that I thought I might have to pack a lunch and scout out hotels before we arrived for the keynote address, he managed to show me a back way into Ellicott City that I've always used since. Instead of hopping off the interstate and driving through the modern section of town, then following State Park signs to the historic center, you come down this very steep hill along a two lane road that empties out into the bottom of the old main street where the mill once stood. As you do, if you look at the houses along the side of the road, you start to see the years peeling away. Toward the top there are some 90s and 00s McMansions, followed by smaller development homes built in the 80s, a little further down there are 60s and 70s track houses, deeper still a few 40s and 50s suburban-type homes, and so it continues until you reach the old city center and you have stone buildings built into the side of a hill in the 1780s, using the stone from the hill as the back wall. It's the closest thing to time travel I've ever experienced.

One of the old homesteads in the old section of town had an intricate fence, which is long since gone, but these fence posts still stand, keeping watch over their domain and taking due note of everything that happens with those cold, pietistic eyes. I wonder what all this lady has observed in her long life.