A foray down out of the city and southwest across the Virginia countryside, past battlefields, monuments and headquarters sites from the Civil and Revolutionary wars set among a remarkably gentle and civilized backdrop that is on the move, cautiously, from late winter to early spring. Destination, after 3 hours, Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia. Leaves are tiny but showing. Early jonquils and the first phlox are up and blooming. The ample bed of spearlike fronds of rosemary on the campus of the University are a froth of blooms in wedgewood blue against the spruce blue of the leaves.
Judy’s physician son, Colin, observed to her recently that the founding of this splendid old university was possibly an even greater accomplishment by Thomas Jefferson than was the Declaration of Independence. Hard to argue from this view. I spent a comfortable and extremely enlightening couple of hours in the coffee shop at Alderman Library on the university campus, where at one point I was told that until the 1970s, an education at the institution was available only to white males. As I looked around, I counted, and found that at that moment, the proportion of scholars was 19 females to 5 males. I’m told the actual proportion is more like 6 to 4, with females prevailing. Along with the conversation I had with historian Holly Cowan Shulman, it made my day.