Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Feeling ancient

Every time we visit some 'old' places here I have a double 'issue': #1 this is not really old (and I hurt every time thinking of the beauty that gets destroyed every day back where I come from... by humans or by time and the humans' ignorance) and #2 I feel like I am coming from another space and time.

Our trip to Nashville
We visited Nashville a few years back, and in the middle of the city they have a beautiful house (I was hoping for Tara, really), Belle Meade. During the tour I kept thinking - this really look like my aunt's house (a house destroyed by the communists 1 month before they lost power... one month!) and then the nice (and very young) guide was talking about the ancient stove and bathtub and... at one point she asked if we knew what 'this was used for in those times' and I told her my grandpa used it every day (it was the leather 'belt' he used to sharpen his shaving blade) and the stove, and the claw tub and pretty much every thing... She looked at us half amazed (probably thinking we don't look that old :)).

I know... I know...
A year or two later - on a field trip with my son's class - we were visiting a historical house here, in Hamilton, all decorated and ready for Christmas. A Victorian Christmas. Toys - made of wood only (yes, I had toys made only of wood), the tree decorated with beautiful glass spheres, painted by hand (we still have some), and (horror! totally unsafe!) real candles... well - guess what? up until just a few years ago my mom's tree was decorated with real candles, the one you set on fire. It was a true art to set them on the tree so when you lit them you won't lit the whole tree :) An old radio - like the one we had in my grandparent's house (working just fine), and some lace gloves, like the ones my mom (and I too, for a brief period) wore at our high-school & university dances.

This is how the Pioneers did their laundry... and my grandma...
Yesterday - the same story. As part of the social studies - grades 3 took a field trip to Westfield Village, a Pioneer Village. The 'family house' had a smoke house (check), an outhouse (check), a water well (check) - they used house-made soap (check) to do their laundry, spin their own wool (check), and the carpenter shop holds things I don't know how to say in English, but I know very well how to use (my grandfather was a carpenter and I spent many sunny days with him in the shop, learning a lot). My son is always amazed when we come back from these trips and I tell him I had the chance to use some of the tools he learned about of being 'ancient' and he's torn between thinking I am that old or I come from a sort of barbarian place (an outhouse? really? yeah, really...)

Now, don't get me wrong - I grew up in an apartment building with every modern facility available (for those times, at least). But in the same city / town - we had houses with outhouses (I am still terrified by them), and great-grandmothers spinning their own wool (with a hand-spinner, not a wheel), and grandfathers using the old soap and brush and blade for shaving. This blend of old and new taught me a lot - and it's something to remember and cherish forever.

Although I still feel sort of ancient on these trips :)

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