Tasha Tudor continues to reign in my imagination. I am waiting for a (rather expensive) copy of Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts to show up, and that will complete the little collection for now–the rest will wait on my Amazon wish list for the next round of credit card points, or Christmas. Whichever comes first.
When I was eleven and twelve and thirteen, somewhere in that age range, I made it out to the local Girl Scout camp several times. Somehow, I was always there in November and it was always bitterly cold. Usually it snowed. Once when we were in tents. When we woke up in the snow, we were allowed to move our things into the big Lodge, the building furnished with a kitchen and regular bathrooms with showers and flush toilets and everything. This building was heated by a large, central fireplace.
If you have ever spent any time in your life in which you spent most of the day keeping warm out in the cold, tramping around the woods, playing tag, having contests to build makeshift shelters, building bonfires–and also going indoors to peel off your layers of clothes and put your feet up next to a crackling fire and eat lovely hot food and rest your weary bones, then you have known what must be one of the keenest pleasures of life.
This, I think, and the constant opportunity for pleasant, rewarding work is what I envy the most in Tasha’s world. Sitting in climate controlled buildings all day deadens the pleasure of life.
Beginning when Sparks was three and ending when he was ten or eleven, his family lived on a small farm. They kept a cow and goats and chickens and rabbits. They had a huge garden, from which they canned and froze a lot of food. They hunted quail on Thanksgiving. They made cheese from the goat’s milk. The house they lived in, I am told, was heated by a wood stove. On weekends they went to fairs, farmer’s markets, and estate auctions.
Sparks says that, for a kid, it was an awful lot of fun. He’s glad that he got to have those few years in the country. However, he says that he wouldn’t do that himself–farms, like boats, are best owned and operated by other people. It was a full-time job for his mother to keep up with the garden and the animals, and taking vacations would have been impossible if there hadn’t been a dairy farmer next door to milk the cow and goats while they were away. He also says that livestock are troublesome–goats especially will find a way to get out of their enclosure, no matter how tightly you think you’ve built it. I am reminded of a story I once read on a message board, about a farmer and his wife who woke up to the sound of their cow licking circles on the outside of their bedroom window.
Sparks also says that wood-burning stoves heat the house unevenly (well, yes) and make the house smell of smoke. No, no old-fashioned hardship for us. We are planning to have a huge garden, on our little half-acre suburban plot, and to freeze and possibly can a lot of food out of it. There is also a small orchard consisting of three apple, three pear, and three crabapple trees. I have the best intentions of tackling as much of that fruit as I possibly can.
As far as tramping through the woods–there are plenty of opportunities for walks among the trees, at Low House (our working name for the house we’re renovating right now). That I am definitely looking forward to. The woods in autumn… we you know how I feel about that.
The picture at the beginning of this post, added mostly for color and visual interest, is a patchwork of 1930s reproduction fabrics that I began cutting out in 1996, when I was in high school, and came back to and finished in perhaps 2006. My mother quilted it on her Pennywinkle frame, before she got her Gammill. Pretty, isn’t it? I am thinking about doing a just-squares queen sized patchwork quilt out of my collected Fig Tree Quilts fabric.