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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thoughts on Pilgrims

Tomorrow, we like so many other Americans are going "Over the River and Through the Woods" to share Thanksgiving with friends. As much as I'm going to enjoy this, I'm going to regret not having leftover pumpkin pie, turkey and dressing. I'll probably make a pumpkin pie, and perhaps a turkey sometime later, but my husband always rolls his eyes when I do because I always boil the carcass for broth and he hates watching me do it.

My contribution this year, as it was the previous years we've visited these particular friends, is home made brown and serve rolls. I usually make them with about 30% whole wheat flour...sometimes I feel they taste like dog biscuits, but if you slather enough butter on it, anything will taste good.

While shooting these two photos, I kept on thinking about russet...obviously because of the wonderful reds in both of them... The little dots in the center of the euphorbia at left are water droplets.

When I think of the word russet...I almost always think of the Pilgrims. Ask any school child what colors the Pilgrims wore and they are likely to answer "black, brown and grey." In reality, the Pilgrims wore colors which were described as "sad colors." Sad colors didn't mean black, brown and grey, but were often used to refer to colors dyed with woad, most often shades of blue, often quite brilliant.

Sorry...you just stepped into a history lesson. Because of my interest in textiles, one of my very short papers I did for Professor James Axtell of William and Mary was on Puritan clothing. Professor Axtell assigns his graduate students short research papers. We had to research the topic fully, but the papers could be no longer than three pages I think when finished, including references.

Research indicated that at the time, the Puritans (and therefore the Pilgrims) described themselves as wearing sad colors, which included russet, red, browns, blues and other colors. I can't remember at the moment if any of the descriptions referred to them wearing green and I can't remember at the moment where I placed this 28 year old paper.

Since most of these people were not from the upper echelons of English society, it is unlikely that they would wear clothing which would show dirt or wear readily. Textiles were expensive and clothing changes were few and far between. Aprons or smocks, were necessary to protect garments while doing dirty work (men generally wore smocks while working in the fields).

Most importantly, people were to "dress according to their station." Only the wealthy were allowed to wear lace, and only the upper ends of society (i.e. nobility) were to wear lace of gold. If a servant was found wearing lace, they could be whipped or fined...or both.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I really like because it doesn't matter what religion or country you come from. You can always find something to be thankful for, even it at times you really have to think about it. My neighbor recites things she is thankful for everyday before falling asleep. She says it relaxes her and puts her to sleep.

Great idea and one we all should practice.

1 comment:

Sunita said...

Blue clothes dont sound sad to me. Or is that why they call it "having the blues"? And red has to be one of the most invigorating, cheerful colours. Sad? Hmmm.... I cant see that.
That Euphorbia looks gorgeous!I dont think I've ever seen one blushing like that.