Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Picking in The Old Days Part 3

There was nothing I'd rather do than immerse myself in the history of 
women's culture.

  From the time I learned to read, I loved stories of the way women lived in
 "the old days". 

 I grew up with a fascination of the settling of this country: 
the first east coast settlements,
 the Revolutionary War,
Ellis Island,
 the Appalachian communities of Scotch-Irish immigrants,
 the Civil War era, 
the gold rush and westward movement in wagons,
the industrial revolution.

Something about the survivalist nature of these women appealed to my little heart.

By extension of that, the
household implements they used
were of importance to me.

They had actually touched and used
 these very things!

These pioneer women had the ability to make do with a minimum of utilitarian inventory, sometimes rudely fashioned, broken and mended . . . 
while creating homes for themselves and their families.

It was the women who continued civilizing this country, with homemaking, sewing circles, schools, church socials and harvest dances . . . 
planting flower gardens, teaching manners, making their homes as lovely as they could with curtains or quilts . . . 
weddings, midwifery, and every sweet touch they could bring to life.

simple hand fashioned objects 
such as wood bowls, gourd ladles, tin boxes, blanket chests, oak splint baskets . . . 

these tactile but humble pieces carried me back in time.

There was an empathetic kinship with them . . . a desire to know them . . . a vivid imagery of their lives . . . I was hooked!

Now Mamom was interested in fine china, flow blue platters, crystal glasses, 
silver and the like.  She had refined tastes.
While she was sorting through the beautiful and feminine dining room pieces, 

I was scratching around in the corners
 for the cast iron kettle that had hung in a rudimentary cabin fireplace, the tin cup that spent it's days tied to a saddle, the hand thrown pottery born in the backwoods of Appalachia, and bread boards worn smooth with generations of use and scrubbing. 

 I longed to know the stories behind coarsely woven Irish linen towels
 and dull brass sleigh bells,
 or the quilts pieced by wives of soldiers off  fighting the war between the states.

What valuables had they locked in box or cupboard that those rusty keys could unlock?

We searched for different kinds of treasures, she and I,
 but our minds held the same sort of questions.  
Our hearts each beat faster when we unearthed some piece of the past.

Our souls were old . . .
Our imaginations vivid.

We were in our glory!

To be continued in tomorrow's blog.

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