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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Farmhands


I'm reading Vilhelm Moberg's first novel The Emigrants, the first in a four-book series about Swedes who emigrated to the U.S. and the start of my research for the Story (see my last post). Currently in Moberg's book I'm reading about farmhands in Sweden, who were usually in a year-long contract. Life was brutal.

Reading books about what life was like 150 years ago creates ambivalent feelings in me. On the one hand, I long to be more connected with the earth and daily survival, pre-industrial age. But on the other, I feel grateful for inventions of convenience and human evolution that mean I don't have to spend an entire day doing laundry, or clearing stones or stumps from a field to till it, or suffer persecution because someone who is religiously zealous is spreading rumors about me.

Today Don and I spent time clearing and burning sticks that had fallen in the ice storm, and cutting and stacking wood for the wood stove. Don has a chainsaw, and we only had to do this work for a couple of hours. On the one hand, we got to be connected with the earth and daily survival. And on the other, right now I'm sitting in the family room typing on my laptop with the woodstove supplementing the heat from the gas furnace.

7 comments:

Ginnie said...

I, too, long for the connection to earth of which you speak, Ruth, and also am ambivalent I've been in many a place where doing the shopping and washing the veggies, etc. and doing the laundry was an all-day affair. I have often felt I'm of "Survivor" material (just not young enough for the show :) because I thrive on that simplicity of life. Surviving. There's actually charm in it, as in camping, as you've done. I guess we're lucky that we can have our cake and eat it too!

Once again, I'm having direct access to your Beta comments! Yay!

lesleyanne said...

it's all i'm thinking about this week. being on the farm. TRYING desparately to stay in the present. but it's so difficult! can i be in the present AND on the farm?
soon. soon.

Rachel said...

Yes, Swede and I talk daily of our move to Sweden, which is now only a year away at the soonest. We are both extremely intoxicated with the idea of living in such a pristinely clean area, and we are hoping to rub elbows with the raindeer herders. I am so excited to hear about your research, and it would be apropos for me to join you! Everyday I feel imprisoned here in the sprawling city, Phoenix. I want to fly away to clean air and the forest. soon. soon. as Lesley says.

Ruth said...

Lesley, you're adorable! :)

Rachel, you never cease to amaze me. I did not know you and Swede plan a move to Sweden! It sounds glorious! Yes, let's share our research and learn everything we can. I've been studying photos of Stockholm and loving it.

Rauf said...

Fresh from some villages in Karnataka. Harvesting was going on.
Spoke to the farm hands mostly ladies, they were laughing at me, having fun as I was clicking their pictures.
'He thinks we are gorgeous film stars'
What will you get taking pictures of ugly people like us ?
I said you are the most beautiful people I know, You don't know how thankful I am to you people. I owe you my life, My nephew and niece do not know how food reaches their table, they don't about your sweat and toil and your love for the earth.

Don't know if they understood what I said in half Tamil and half Kannada, had my lunch with them. Our farm hands are pretty ill equipped Ruth.
I'll post the pictures once I am through with the environment series.
Merry christmas to you Ruth, Don, dear Lesley Anne and Peter. Wish you all the joy on earth.

Ruth said...

Rauf, if they didn't understand all your words, they understood your meaning, I think. Your love and appreciation came through, no doubt.

Thank you for the Christmas wishes! I wish you all the same!! to you and your dear family.

thehealingroom said...

Hey Ruth,
I tagged Ginnie and you over on my blog.
Its an easy tag.