Friday morning was so, so much rain, pouring out of the sky, waking up the cats, and actually necessitating the closing of two whole windows in order to keep the bed and the record player dry–we’ve got our priorities in line over here. I had the luxury of hibernating inside, so I did that until the rain stopped, the clouds cleared out, and it was all blue sky and clean air, our city given a good shower to rinse off our pretend summer from the previous week. Yep, time for a bike ride. I started up the hill for a lunch date with myself and then back down, the vague idea that I could maybe get an ice cream cone in Canton and still make it back to Harbor East for Godzilla–these are the hard choices of the first day of summer vacation. And then I remembered I am a member at the Reginald Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture–why not stop on my way and see what’s new? I locked up my bike on the corner of Mary Pickersgill’s old home where she sewed what would be the Star Spangled Banner with the help of her nieces and a Black woman, maybe a slave, maybe an indentured servant–the evidence isn’t clear, because at that time her existence was largely immaterial, except for the material labor part. That’s not true inside the Lewis Museum, where it is all recuperative history. History’s hard to tell, as far as I can tell (I’m no historian–just a Ken Burns-style history buff), and this latest trip to the museum showed me something new. The exhibit on slavery in Maryland included the following text: “After 1800, some slaves lived virtually as free people, especially those in Maryland’s northern counties or near its largest towns and cities.” Well, that just seems wrong. I mean, “virtually” free is pretty different from free, right? That would include men like Frederick Douglass–read his autobiography and there’s not a whole lot of virtual freedom in Maryland going on when he’s working for wages in Baltimore. And then I thought about our investments in history, and how they might shape our interpretations, and why it is important to understand the different manifestations of slavery, even if it is always slavery, in the end. The rest of the visit was like that, reading signs I’ve read before with a different set of eyes and questions, and then a ride to get ice cream, a pit stop in Patterson Park to look for signs of baby duckling life, a picture of the view that can’t capture the view, before heading home. It was good to have a day of rest so my mind could open up to something new again.