Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Pleasant and Comfortable Place

"The glow of the sunset was shining through the front door of the cabin. There was Ma in her brown calico dress and blue apron, busy at her spinning wheel. Jim was sitting on a a log stool at her feet while Ma taught him his A B C's. Sally, on another stool, was busy with her patchwork and singing softly as she worked."

"That morning Tom had been too much excited to notice what a pleasant and comfortable place the cabin really was. There was a big room and a little room, with a door in the wall between. The rest of the wall was taken up with the great fireplace made of cobblestones plastered together." Taken from Singing Wheels - The Alice and Jerry Books. 1950 edition, page 83 - 84

This morning I started reading in this book as it was lying by my place at the breakfast table. I remember these books being around when I was a kid, and must have read some of them, because I was thrilled when I found this copy at a garage sale. It is a reader, but it is written like a chapter book about a boy’s adventures on the frontier.

Something special struck me about this story though, as I was reading the description of their home and what they were doing. Scenes like the one written above warm my heart and make me long for simpler days. Then I looked at the picture that went with the story and wanted to be there. What is it about stories like this that are so wonderful? I looked closely at the picture, then saw how uncomfortable their chairs might be, how plain the walls, how cold the floor. The house was not up to modern comfort levels, yet it sounded so wonderful.

They had so little but they seemed to appreciate it, and they also seemed to really enjoy being together. Maybe that is the difference. Maybe it is all in how I think about something. I wonder if there are some “pleasant and comfortable” things about my own home that I am just not noticing. Maybe I spend too much time thinking about what is not quite right and overlooking all the things that are wonderful. Maybe like the boy Tom in the story I’m just too “excited” or busy every morning to see the beautiful story of our life. I wonder how an Emily Rose and Forest storybook would read, if I took the time to write it. Maybe there are things of beauty closer then I realize, if I would just open my eyes.

“The warm evening light poured through the blinds into the tidy living room. Mama was wearing a comfortable brown skirt and her pretty red, white and blue apron while busily typing an entry for her blog. Emily Rose sat beside her searching online for better instructions on how to build a three wheeled cart, with the parts she already has. Forest was looking at a picture book about animals, while Father tried to find bugs in his software program. Quiet music played softly in the background. Everyone was happy to be home, and happy to be together.”

“Earlier that day Mama was too consumed with her morning responsibilities to notice what a pleasant and comfortable place her home really was. There was padded seats for everyone, colorfully painted walls, pictures and photographs and pretty shelves with lovely things upon which to rest the eyes. There was a 100 year old piano with keys that still made lovely music if you cared to sit on it’s bench. Quilts and soft fleece blankets graced the arms of the couch…”
- The Story of Emily Rose and Forest, a book not yet written

How would your story read? Of course, I didn't write about the whining that happened about cleaning up the kitchen, or the mess of dirt and shoes by the front door, or the kid's frustrated outbursts during school. The writer of the Alice and Jerry Books didn't either. But I think she is on to something. Sure we are a real family. So were the families living in cabins on the frontier of America. Books about them often leave out the harder realities of living without any conveniences. But they do write about the joys of living then, the special times, the funny stories, the things that make life worth living. And those are the things I want to think about, the things that make home "a pleasant and comfortable place to be."

6 bouquets of wildflowers (Comment here):

VJ said...

It's a quiet, overcast Sabbath afternoon. The cool freshness of the later summer breezes is a welcome relief to the days of hot, hot weather the family has endured.

The baby is falling asleep to the sweet sounds of music coming from her cribside music box, and the eight-year-old boy is curled up on the couch nearby deeply absorbed in a Jerry D. Thomas "Great Stories for Kids" book.

Daddy has slipped into his room to take a long awaited nap, and mother is taking a few minutes to chat (via blog comments) with long-time frends.

The dog is laying contentedly on the floor, awaiting another chance to be taken outside to chase geese.

For now, the family is content, and the stresses and cares of their world are at bay.

Elizabeth Joy said...

Sigh. That sounds so nice. It made me feel restful just reading it. I hope everyone was refreshed.

Pamela said...

I enjoyed this post very much!!!

Melia said...

Ah, I love it.

Elizabeth said...

Hello, Elizabeth Joy,

Thanks for visiting my blog the other day. I enjoyed this post about really seeing our homes and enjoying them as they are. For the next generation of children growing up, memories playing nearby while mom blogs will be part of their nostalgia.

Nadine said...

You are a kindred. I love books like the one you so eloquently described in this blog post. I love anything "Little House"ish. I've always been that way. I don't know why. Give me simplicity any day. Thank you for writing this. You really made me think about how my own story would read...I'm feeling slightly convicted, because I don't think mine would invoke quite the same quiet, calm feelings. *sigh*