Thursday, February 12

Thinking about medieval travel and material objects.

The past few weeks have afforded me little time for anything but coping; when you have dust and mould allergies and the task at hand is to do the final cleaning of a mouldy, dusty house, things can get rather amusing. Then there are the social aspects of saying good-bye to the neighbourhood: though we have several weeks before us, we are already having last dinners and last meetings and last tastes and smells and experiences. The general goodwill of the village and the exemplary hospitality of the individuals therein still amaze me.

[With wool from France; very warm! Just finished these the day before yesterday.]

Still, somehow I end up dreaming. Or, not exactly. Just thinking. I've been slowly changing my daily routines to include medieval material culture; my hair products are all natural now (even my comb is made of horn and not of plastic), I knit my own socks and hats (ok, fine: this is debatable--but it is highly plausible!), bake my own bread, eat my breakfast out of hand-turned wooden bowls, and drink my coffee out of a comfortable little stoneware mug my mother found at a little shop in Glastonbury. All this done while wriggling my toes in their crocheted slippers.

What makes me laugh is that it is so much easier to pack for the relocation process with these things. I don't have a huge hairbrush and large bottles of commercial shampoo to worry about getting caught on things or opening and spilling in my suitcase. I am never bored when I have a knitting project--socks, in particular, are very portable indeed and one can fit in a jacket pocket for those frequent five or ten minute-spans spent waiting or talking. Crocheted slippers are infinitely scrunchable and completely washable, unlike their plastic-soled counterparts. My wooden bowls don't need padding or wrapping in my bag because they are extremely durable. All of these things are comfortable and customisable and familiar.

It makes me feel more sane to have these small amenities amongst so much plastic and mass-produced nonsense. Also it gives rise to a new respect for medieval travel (be it merchant, royalty, or pilgrimage), because I had thought that at least domestic details like these would be more difficult.



Bob said...

A post! A post! There is a post!

My first thought, because I am too wrapped up in modern technology, was that it was an elaborate play on words. It was a "Quake" pie ("cake" pie, a-ha! it is to laugh!). If you Google "Quake logo" you'll see why. But then I realized that you were rather unlikely to have been a fan of that particular game.

So my guess is "apple".

Anonymous said...

Nice socks. And blueberry?


sandyquill said...

I am so glad that your preferences are making things easier for you in some small manner. :) God is good!

As you are being blessed by those around you in your last things, it must be gratifying to know that you have blessed them as well. Sometimes, people who live within the spheres of others' lives are unaware of the small daily joys they impart. Until the joys are exchanged for new ones.

I am very sorry to hear your allergies are being so assaulted. I sincerely hope they are eased when you're relocated!!

Robin Wood said...

Those are impressive socks! We had a visitor from Turkey the other day and she simply could not believe that most people in the UK do not knit or even mend clothes.

When I read the title of the post I thought it was going to be about the material objects traveling. I remember being amazed to discover that at one period around the 14thC I think the most common fabric in Medieval Novgorod was a woolen cloth made from Spanish Merino Fleece woven in the low countries and then taken again my wind powered boat up to the Baltic and down the Volga.

A hundred years before they used English wool. The thought that a few rare items traveled a long way even in the Neolithic never surprised me but that many common things traveled was a surprise.

Anna said...

I want that pie.

miss rika said...

Bob: You win:) I'd like to check out Quake sometime but as I'm figuring out quite slowly, it is very difficult to have more than a few hobbies if one of them is gaming. I get especially obsessed by these things.

Gee-off, thanks:)

Sandi: God IS good. Over the past few years I've improved a bit on appreciating the small details of what I do every day . . . moving into a hotel really does change one's perspective, though, now that I've gathered around me tools I am really fond of. It is like having a favourite mug, only tenfold. I can't wait to nest in a new house. And we'll find out about the allergies very soon!:D

Robin, I'm looking forward to getting to some real libraries soon and finding out more about this (particularly the knitted beanie c.1300 of "mermaid hair", which ended up in St. Denis, France)--as it is, I am struck with the more personal realisation that when my tools that I use on a daily basis are unique and familiar, they are more difficult to give up. (My family laughed until we found out our hotel kitchen had no mixing bowls. Mambrino and I are very smug.) If you ever decide you want hand-knit socks, I'll take a discount on my next woodware adoption :-D

Anna: Very soon, my precious.