O'er snow swept oceans they climbed; the groaning ship waxing death and water. After days and nights and horrendous creaking months, the sight of land found them prostrate, sobbing. Old Bradford said of it, "...they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven." They were... home. They built and constructed, forging their new lives in the forest. Yet the tangled secrets of this new world left them bewildered.
And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. Besides what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men? And what multitudes there might be of them, they knew not. (Bradford)
And so the winter winds blew harshly through the plank doors, snuffing out life after life. Ten were gone. Then twenty. The frozen ground was interrupted from its winter sleep again and again, and still more bodies were laid beneath the innocent snow. When the sun finally stretched out its warming hand, it wept at the sight that uneducated life in the new world had wrought; over half of the small settlement was obliterated, only three families remained intact. And then he came- very much as a surprise, nearly naked, yet speaking their tongue and eager to aid; surely an angel sent by God? He divulged the secrets of the trees and leaves, unlocking the mysteries of the seas and rivers; he performed magic with the ground yielding large harvests. Overcome with gratefulness for the stranger, one spoke of him as "a special instrument sent of God for our good, beyond our expectation." And thus, they learned the ways of the land, planting and reaping, hunting and fishing. They learned to survive the woods and the winds. Summer days came... and went. And by God's grace, they prospered.
Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie. (Edward Winslow)
One day... I want to sit cross-legged on the floor of her shop. I will bury my hands in a soft heap of feathers and fish out burnt oranges and melon pinks. My knees will play hide and seek, lost in the flirtatious ribbons, inches and yards of old and new ribbons; and lace too: lace is very flirtatious. And then I will remember the ferns and willow branches arching over the side of the brown basket, alongside the pitchers and little baskets of grasses and twigs and lichens and mosses and skeletal leaves. And then there will be beads, buttons, and pieces of colored glass and ancient sequins and real looking diamonds and rubies, and they will find their destiny sewn on ruched fabric or glued on headdresses and hems. And from under the creaky door, the winter breezes will rush in and prowl around the room; but the warm air whooshing through the rusty heater vents will chase them away. The room will smell of vanilla candles and old things and of greenery and drapes and dust and of my hot rooibos tea sitting there on the window sill; and we will listen silently to the rain pattering on the roof and on the sidewalk. And she, with her weathered grey hair and I with my youthful red, will sit there on the floor. And we will make things.
posted at 5:21 PM