Thoughts on Homekeeping & A Tribute to Tasha Tudor


-from Old Sturbridge Village-
This summer I am reading The Art of the Commonplace - the Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry (ed. by Norman Wirzba)I can't say that I'd necessarily recommend this book (especially because I haven't finished it yet), but mostly because I don't always agree with Mr. Berry's viewpoints.  However, sometimes he hits the nail on the head, and sometimes he is quite thought-provoking.
I am always fascinated with historic homekeeping.  I love searching the Scriptures for how women spent their time...what they did.  I love reading of the lives of famous women like Martha Washington or Abigail Adams, and discovering how they kept their house and nurtured their families.  I just cannot know enough about the housekeeping lives of Ma Ingalls or Almanzo Wilder's mother (particularly her).  What an amazingly productive house she kept!

So when Wendell Berry began espousing on the devaluation of women's work, he had my attention.  He writes, "The modern housewife was isolated from her husband, from her school-age children, and from other women.  She was saddled with work, from which much of the skill, hence much of the dignity, had been withdrawn, and which she herself was less and less able to consider important...They bought labor-saving devices that worked, as most machines have tended to work, to devalue or replace the skills of those that used them...Thus housewifery, once a complex discipline acknowledged to be one of the bases of culture and economy, was reduced to the exercise of purchasing power...The industrial economy had changed the criterion of housekeeping from thrift to convenience.  Thrift was a complex standard, requiring skill, intelligence, and moral character, and private thrift was rightly considered a public value."  (highlighting is mine)

-from Coggeshall Farm-
What challenging thoughts!  Now I like my washing machine just as well as the next homemaker, and I'm not about to give it up, but it is inspiring (awe-inspiring) to think of all the innovative ways that homemakers in the past had for getting out stains.  How many of us have the skills needed to make soap from scratch...really from scratch?  How many of us could feed our families year after year from the work of our hands?  How many of us grow the flax or tend the sheep to provide us with spinning material to spin, weave, and then make clothing for our family.  Our lives are still full of plenty of challenges, no denying that.  But I am challenged to ponder how many skills we lack that would've been considered commonplace...a commonplace art years ago.

Perhaps that's one of the main reasons I continue to be inspired by Tasha Tudor.  Here was a woman who lived in the same century as all of us, and yet still possessed those homekeeping skills we relegate to a bygone era.  And she did it all with such seeming grace and beauty.  She found the art of the commonplace.  The beauty in the simple.  The joy in the everyday.

Today I challenged myself to create an Etsy treasury that was a "Tribute to Tasha Tudor".  It was hard to narrow it down to just 16 Etsy listings, because Tasha Tudor's skills and interests were so numerous!  Click here to see my tribute to a truly accomplished homemaker.

2 comments:

  1. inspiring post, thank you.
    And the irony... such as: "we" (modern society) purchase gym memberships to srengthen our [weak feminine] upper body. Whereas my grandmother vigorously whipped her own egg whites and frostings by hand, even into her late 80s; beat her rugs, hoed her garden ...

    deb meyers

    ReplyDelete

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