Reflections on the Old Ways

I’ve been reflecting on our recent journey to Wisconsin and the day spent walking the 480 acre outdoor museum of pioneer homes and farms of the 1800’s.  The well-educated guides explained the way things were done during that time period by demonstrating the use of the tools and utensils of that day. 

I’ve been reflecting on our recent journey to Wisconsin and the day spent walking the 480 acre outdoor museum of pioneer homes and farms of the 1800’s.  The well-educated guides explained the way things were done during that time period by demonstrating the use of the tools and utensils of that day. 

Not only did I learn a lot, but I was excited to realize that I too owned washboards and galvanized tubs, sad irons and iron skillets, chamber pots and tools previously used by my ancestors.  I too have baked my own bread, made my own butter from fresh cream, grown my own food, made my own soap, raised chickens, sewn my own clothes, and preserved my own food.  I don’t have to do any of the things I do out of necessity, but in the doing I find great satisfaction.

Not only did I learn a lot, but I was excited to realize that I too owned washboards and galvanized tubs, sad irons and iron skillets, chamber pots and tools previously used by my ancestors.  I too have baked my own bread, made my own butter from fresh cream, grown my own food, made my own soap, raised chickens, sewn my own clothes, and preserved my own food.  I don’t have to do any of the things I do out of necessity, but in the doing I find great satisfaction.

What I don’t do is cook at a blazing wood stove wearing a long dress and petticoats.  I don’t live with open windows that invite flies and hot, humid air.  I don’t use the washtubs or washboards to clean my clothes nor do I use the wash basins and chamber pots I possess.  I have air conditioning, electricity and indoor plumbing.  I can buy clothes someone else has made or jump in my car and run to a store for any kind of food I might desire.  And I imagine many of the women that lived during the years my grandmother and great grandmother lived would gladly give up some of the misery they endured without the luxuries I now enjoy.  I have a choice.  They did not.

What I don’t do is cook at a blazing wood stove wearing a long dress and petticoats.  I don’t live with open windows that invite flies and hot, humid air.  I don’t use the washtubs or washboards to clean my clothes nor do I use the wash basins and chamber pots I possess.  I have air conditioning, electricity and indoor plumbing.  I can buy clothes someone else has made or jump in my car and run to a store for any kind of food I might desire.  And I imagine many of the women that lived during the years my grandmother and great grandmother lived would gladly give up some of the misery they endured without the luxuries I now enjoy.  I have a choice.  They did not.

Life is short and I’ve lived more years than I have in front of me.  But I want to leave this earth with hands aged by the tasks I loved, a face the sun smiled on often, and the knowledge that I too left a legacy of love for my family and land that will feed them for generations to come.

Life is short and I’ve lived more years than I have in front of me.  But I want to leave this earth with hands aged by the tasks I loved, a face the sun smiled on often, and the knowledge that I too left a legacy of love for my family and land that will feed them for generations to come.

Karen ShawComment