Todays letterboxing is somewhat different. Clues are posted on sites such as Letterboxing North America. Clues lead to a box containing a notebook and a stamp. Letterboxers maintain a personal notebook or log in which they use the stamp they find in the box to prove they have found the box. Letterboxers also have a personal stamp (often hand carved) which they use to stamp the notebook in the box to show they have been there.
There are quite a few letterboxes in our D.C. area. I decided to begin with a set of clues that explored the historic graveyards of Old Town Alexandria. There were four boxes to be located. We started at the Quaker Burial Ground, which is now a public library. A marker remains for Elisha Dick--a doctor who treated the dying George Washington. Apparently Dr. Dick was against using leeches to bleed George Washington. While we enjoyed discussing the use of leeches in medicine, we could not locate the box.
We then headed off to Christ Church. Historical figures such as George Washington and Robert E. Lee regularly attended this church. Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill famously attended a National Day of Prayer at this church just after the United States entered World War II. On our hunt we followed the clues and found the loose bricks the clues indicated, but there was no stamp.
Feeling a bit frustrated at this point, we needed to regroup. A bit of internet research revealed other letterboxing groups suspected the first two stamps were missing, but the remaining two stamps were still in place. We set off again.
Our next stop was the Old Presbyterian Meeting House. I had never been to this building, though it is relatively close to our house. It is such a great old building with its fantastic white colonial pews. Strangely enough, this cemetery also holds a doctor who treated the dying George Washington. Apparently this doctor was in favor of using leeches, so we didn't like him as much. I'm happy to report we easily found this stamp and the girls excitedly checked out our find.
On a side note, three-year-old Anne was not an enthusiastic participant in this activity. It certainly is more geared towards the older girls, but I was hoping the treasure hunt aspect of the outing would catch her attention. Anne did not like the cemeteries. Perhaps the decaying headstones of the old burial grounds was just too much for our overly imaginative child. I'm hoping she's more excited about future hunts that do not take place in cemeteries.
Anne was much more enthusiastic about our evening activity yesterday. We released our butterflies that we had watched go from caterpillars to chrysalises and finally to beautiful painted ladies. This is our third year watching this amazing miracle of nature and it never gets old. We began with five caterpillars. Three successfully formed into chrysalises. Two caterpillars formed chrysalises but had fallen from where they originally attached so we weren't sure what would happen with them. One of these came out of its chrysalis a beautiful butterfly with no problem. The other emerged alive but did not appear fully formed. We kept him in our netted cage with food to see if he improves but we are not hopeful. We released the four remaining butterflies. We unzipped the netting and watched as one-by-one each butterfly realized it could fly higher and higher. We all cheered each time one magically floated into the sky for the first time.