February 24, 2013

A Life Long Ago

I lay in bed on a snowy night (early since the power was out and it was cold) and stared into the darkness. My mind went to wondering what a family of the 1700's would be doing at a time like this. 

My first thought was that a mother would be bored, like I was, even though I could have continued reading by candlelight. This was probably not the case. A mother was likely busy tucking in 5 of her 10 children by whale oil light or light from the hearth. Afterward, she might sit down to darn a pair of socks by hand- taken from a heaping pile of clothes in need of repair beside her.

 Her husband might be busy gathering wood- to keep the small wooden home warm until morning- and hanging his wet clothes on a strand of rope hung in front of the fire (clothes he would need dry for tomorrow when he went out to split wood). They would talk, take turns getting a bath from pots they had warmed over the fire, as there would be no time to do these things in the daylight hours: soup needed to be started, bread baked, laundry beaten, lessons for the children in reading and arithmetic, attend church services, empty chamber pot/s, hunt for food…And then I realized that they likely did all this with the same constant chill that I had to my bones from being cold.

 Not even the itchy and uncomfortable wool they wore back then would be enough to keep them truly warm in single digit temperatures. Yet they managed to make a home a home by using what they had. Life is good, not matter how hard it is at times, and this I remind myself when complaints reach my lips.