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"Pots and pans" history
on April 14, 2004
"Pots and pans" history. So that's what this stuff is called. If that is supposed to diminish it, allow me to suggest that nothing could be further from the truth.
Nothing is more controversial in our society today than "woman's place," and no where is it more controversial than among women. (Any email list will bear this out.)
But what was it like for the women who were the founders of this country? How often do we even think about how they lived, unless we happen to visit one of the burgeoning historical communities multiplying across the country?
It was work, and it was hard work. Women were at home, and they were at home for a reason. Even getting to church was a major endeavor, and one they fought for, for it was women who built many of the major American congregations thriving today.
Their relationships with each other sustained them, and also were likely to pose the most threat, for women could make or break the reputations of one another, upon which survival depended.
Childbirth, pre, post and in between, determined the rhythm of life for generations of women. There were many births, and many of them did not live to adulthood. A woman who was able to nurture many children to see her grandchildren and great-grandchildren had accomplished a great deal, and was honored accordingly.
They had to know and understand the rhythms of nature and the timing of how to use an oven they could stand in and work with its heat as it coursed over the length of a day. There were no timers. There were no temperature regulators. There certainly were no microwave ovens or dish washers or washing machines.
They made medical tinctures as well as food, for doctors were few and far between and if they couldn't nurse their loved ones to health, they lost them more often than not.
They acted as "Deputy Husbands," representing their husbands in their livelihood, not in their own right, but as stand-ins based on the status of their husbands. It was power, even if not their own.
Well researched, thoroughly documented, well written and a very pleasant read, this book will allow us all to count our blessings -- and honor our foremothers.