North­ern Vir­ginia is about to lose a colo­nial-era sanc­tu­ary

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“Sanc­tu­ary” is a highly politi­cized term, but let’s look at the ox­ford­dic­tionar­ def­i­ni­tion: a place of “refuge or safety,” or “a na­ture re­serve.”

This area will lose a sanc­tu­ary in De­cem­ber when the Na­tional Park Ser­vice closes Claude Moore Colo­nial Farm, a lit­tle pocket of na­ture in McLean, wedged be­side the Ge­orge Bush Cen­ter for In­tel­li­gence.

It’s not Wil­liams­burg. You pay $5, then step on to a dirt path and into the 18th cen­tury. Open fields, a to­bacco barn, tur­keys roam­ing freely, a split-rail fence en­clos­ing pigs — and look for the piglets who slip un­der the rail. Wind around to the home­stead, a one-room cabin. Chil­dren chase chick­ens, the women in colo­nial dress greet you cheer­fully. “Where are you from, neigh­bor?” “Ar­ling­ton.” “Oh, and is that a dis­tance?” Be­cause Ar­ling­ton wasn’t es­tab­lished un­til 1801, and the time warp at Claude Moore is 1771.

The vol­un­teers and staff at Claude Moore have, for many years, en­ter­tained and ed­u­cated area schoolchil­dren. My son in­terned there, feed­ing the her­itage an­i­mals. Fes­ti­vals demon­strate the crafts and prac­tices of 1771 Amer­ica. And there is breath­ing room. A chance to put aside the 21st cen­tury and re­al­ize how peo­ple lived be­fore this coun­try of­fi­cially started. What com­fort was in a one-room cabin with­out run­ning wa­ter. How a liv­ing was made in a wilder­ness where the land was your gro­cery store. How neigh­bors were wel­comed. While it is the 11th hour, I en­cour­age read­ers to visit the farm and put in a word to keep it open. Laura Arm­strong, Ar­ling­ton

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