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Posts Tagged ‘history’

Today my husband and I celebrated a much to rare, but nonetheless wonderful date day by going to the Shelburne Museum.  This is one of Vermont’s greatest treasures and if you live here in the state and have not been, you have no IDEA what you are missing.  There are very few museums on the PLANET that allow you to  enjoy the amazing weather that comes with a New England Summer, take in extraordinary gardens of all shapes and sizes, enjoy exhibits on anything and everything from paper art, haute couture and Vermont made rifles, and then immerse yourself in culture from 300-400 years ago.  It is a wonderful and interesting place to spend the day, especially if you have thing a for history and/or art OR if like me, you are a bit eccentric and find the early settler/homesteader life extraordinary.    We spent a solid 20 minutes chit-chatting with the woman in the Settler’s house discussing the original Dutch oven and how nicely it bakes.  My husband and I studied the old school branch trellis holding up the cucumber plants at that same location for just as long deciding whether or not we could employ the same techniques in our garden.   I watched in amazed fascination as a woman weaved  on a giant loom to create the most simple and elegant table runner I have ever seen.   I renewed my interest in raising Alpacas and Sheep and learning the art of spinning my own yarn.  With a gentle “ok honey, it’s time to go,” my husband herded me to the next locations:  The Stencil House and the Prentiss House.  Two New England settler homes from circa 1700.   These houses featured everything from hand stenciled Americana walls, beehive chimneys, cast iron rotisseries, hand carved tables and chairs, and the most amazing floor plans.    Bedrooms that opened into one another.   Bedroom’s that hosted both a grown up bed and small children’s beds or bassinets to accommodate extended families living under one roof.   I have no illusions that it was not all daisies and pigtails.  I understand that mortality was high and days were long.   Nevertheless, these were homes were the fire was always hot and nighttime was meant for sleeping and daytime was meant for working.   Children were active and working members of the family.   Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins and whomever else needed a roof lived under it.   Everything in the house was made by hand.   Cast iron, wood, glass and cloth were the only materials to be found.   As I drank in each site and smell of historical life, it occurred to me that my family’s life was not so different.   Cast iron is my favorite cooking material.  Cooking, knitting, gardening and raising livestock are passions of mine.   My home is filled with friends and family that I love as often as possible.   Our daughter shares space with us so that a friend can use our spare bedroom so that he can save money to purchase a business.  A business, where ideally we will get discount repairs for our vehicles.     While I LOVE my Kindle, there is often nothing better than curling up by the fire with a good book (Electronic or otherwise) on a cool fall day.   There is nothing so lovely as taking a hot bath by a warm fire in claw foot tub.  No, I do not boil the water on the wood stove, but I would should the power and thus my hot water heater  fail.   The settlers who lived in the homes I saw today did not know the joys of HBO and Amazon.com.    They didn’t have the luxury of a freezer to store their produce for the winter months.   If mom wasn’t feeling good and decided not to bake, the family went without bread.   Sugar was expensive so coffee and tea, if there was any, was taken black.   I am quite certain I would expire in 48 hours if I were denied my Coffeemate.   These families learned to live with less and still make a house a home.  As we faced hardship with the economic downturn, we learned very quickly how to simplify.  It meant making one bedroom into two.  I meant learning to make homemade pizza instead of delivery.  It meant Saturday nights spent by a fire in the backyard instead of in a movie.   It meant homemade gifts.   In the end, I left the museum thankful that I live in 2011 instead of 1711, but I am happy that we have managed to bring some of the simplicity of those times into our home.  Maybe, just maybe, next time you see me I will be complete with an Alpaca and a spinning wheel of my own……

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