Saturday, March 19, 2011

Housekeeping in Lamb in His Bosom 1

Here are some quotes from Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller that give an idea of the work of women of non-slaveholding farming families in Georgia in the two decades before the Civil War.

Thoughts on Setting Up Her House
Now she was a woman and would churn her own butter, scald her own milk-crocks and set them in the sun to make them smell sweet and clean; now she would own and tend her little patches of herbs and melons, drop corn behind her own man, and watch it grow, and hoe the grass out from around the sharp, clean blades cutting through the earth.

Typical milk crock

Creating the Bed
She went into the house where the floor of split logs had never been scrubbed and yet was clean, where Lonzo had set the bedplace in the corner with its depth of dry cornshucks soaked and softened in water, and dried again in recent suns. Over these shucks, that would rustle softly with the turn of their bodies, was spread a thick mattress of soft new cotton, caught between its homespun ticking with strong thread in the hands of Cean’s mother. Atop the cotton mattress lay Cean’s feather bed, the feathers saved from every goose for years gone. Atop this were homespun sheets and Cean’s quilts, one of them the bright and dark scraps of the Widow’s Trouble pattern, sewn by Cean’s fingers through her girlhood. She had two other quilts—Star of the East, and Maiden’s Tear—that she had pieced herself. That would be more than enough cover for these bright, cool nights, and before winter came again she would make other quilts. Lonzo’s mother had promised wool for two comforts when the sheep should be sheared in April.

Widow's Pane Quilt Pattern from Carolina Patchworks (Is Widow's Trouble the origin of this pattern?)

Making the Broom
Cean gathered the bushes of the gall berries for brush brooms and laid them on top of her wash-shed to dry. The brittle stems, beaten free of leaves, would keep the dooryard clean of trash. Each morning as she swept the yard the twigs of the brush broom left their little wavy marks on the thin sand about her doorstep.

Gallberry bush

Cean’s House

When they needed more room Lonzo would ceil the room and make a loft for another room. Now there was room aplenty; and truth to tell, Cean liked the dim space overhead where the corners were veiled with dusty cobwebs that the little gray spiders had woven, bringing good luck to this house. She loved her house; from the beams of it hung her bronze-red pods of pepper drying for sausage seasoning, her beans strung to dry for winter use, her seeds gathered fresh, season by season, and tied in clean rags to hang safe from the rats’ greedy teeth….

Yonder on the wall hung the little looking-glass that Lonzo had brought from the Coast so she could see to comb her hair; on the narrow shelf below the looking-glass lay the fine bone-backed bomb and the bristle hair-brush, and the little pipkin of ointment compounded of witch-hazel tea and rose leaves, to soothe her lips and hands from winter chapping. On her floor were yellow shuck rugs of her own plaiting and sewing, and deep bearskin rugs from the backs of the honey-robbing, lamb-stealing beasts that Lias, dare-devil! had killed in the swamp. Far in the corner was her bed, and close beside it was the cradle where the babies would sleep, each in its time.


You may also enjoy:
Housekeeping in Great Forest: The Trees 2
Housekeeping in The Fields


Jodi said...

Linda, can these books be found in a library? I've had some trouble hunting for them, but they do sound so good.

jenmack said...

I really enjoy your - *Housekeeping in the ___book____* series of Inspiration from the past type posts! They're delightful and truly inspiring!

Linda said...

Hi Jodi, Lamb in the Bosom is hard to find; I hope it is reprinted soon. I buy my books, if they are not in the library, from The Richter books were in my library; they were reprinted in paperback.

Jenmack, Thanks for your comment. I am glad you are enjoying the housekeeping series. I just always find such descriptions fascinating.