I have always been what my mama called ‘an old timey girl.’ Something about days long gone by has just always captured my imagination– from the first chapter book I ever read on my own (Hitty: Her First Hundred Years) to forays into the Little House books and all the Anne of Green Gables stories.
It’s no wonder then– in my love of history, old places and spaces– that I have a love for Living History museums, like Old Sturbridge Village. Within this large, village-sized Living History museum in Sturbridge, MA. there’s a working farm called the Freeman Farm. Originally built around 1815 by farmer Pliny Freeman, it is is a working farm, where OSV staff and volunteers bring carry out living in the 1830’s on a daily basis. The whole place is wonderful, and authentic (even down to the flies in the kitchen which, really, isnt that wonderful, but it sure is authentic!) and an amazing place.
The last time we visited, we were touring the home when the family had just sat down to dinner. That day, the men had been working with the animals, the younger girls had been out working in the garden, and the older women had been preparing the afternoon meal.
Inside the home it is decorated and set up as it would have looked in the 1830s. The bedrooms, filled with quilts on beds, chairs and books on the little side table, children’s toys left about and shawl laid across a chair back…. It is one thing to imagine these spaces from lifetimes gone by, and quite another to see them real right before your eyes. It makes my heart ache a little from happiness. It is, for those kindred spirits who love the ‘olden days’,….a feeling like returning to a precious place we miss, but have never been.
And while I know there is no real ‘going back to the olden days’….and that things then were quite far from perfect, and there was much that needed to be improved— there was a long way to go when it came to freedom and equality for all, there was a long way to go when it came to health and hygiene, and also a lot of great inventions to be made that makes our quality of life much more livable– there is also so much worth appreciating;
Appreciation of slow, quiet work….making and creating with our own hands….eating real and homegrown food….not letting the outside world inundate and overwhelm….creating community and caring for our neighbors and friends….these are all timeless ideas that still have so much value, and are ‘real’ things that improve our lives.
These last two photos are from two years prior to the other photos, and they were repainting the house from dark gray to red.
Looking through these photos now…it makes my heart happy. Sometimes this work feels too busy, too frantic. We are…bombarded. Often I find myself feeling helpless and heartsick. These snapshots from the Freeman Farm, and my memories of being there, offer me a bit of quiet solace. A reminder to me to take a deep breath and remember what matters in my life, and what I can control in it. I can feed my family, I can tend my garden. I can create things, and embrace a slower, gentler lifestyle. I can still be informed and still care about the world around me— but I can also strive to find balance. And that is why my love of Old Ways is all about.
It is my hope that these snippets and snapshots have offered you a similar respite, and hope for a gentler, slower world as well.
If you’d like to read more about my adventures in New England, I invite you to take a peek at a blog series I started last summer called Summer in New England. It appears now that I’m continuing it! I look forward to sharing more homespun adventures with you soon….