The children and I have all finally recovered from a terrible cold. It was the kind that gets into your bones and makes you feel weak and weepy, inconsolable and feverish. We spent the last couple of weeks coughing and sputtering and feeling just utterly miserable.
Because it goes with the theme, I thought I'd show you a couple of sketches of the plague doctor that Sunburst and I penciled a few of weeks ago when we were talking about the Great Pestilence or Great Plague of 1348.
A few years ago we came across a lovely historical museum in Switzerland that had a section dedicated to the Great Plague, or Schwarzer Tod. We were all mesmerized by the costume on display for the Doktor Schnabel. It's an image that you don't forget easily, though I'm sure it's nothing compared to how the people of the time felt about it.
I just loved Sunburst's drawing of this-- it has such great feeling to it. I love how she captured the mystery and foreboding-- the fog creeping over the ground, the clouded moon. I think it's just marvelous. Her drawing gives a much more sense impression than my static close-up pictured on the right. It is such a joy to draw with her.
On a somewhat related note...
We're still house hunting. We recently viewed an interesting house on the market-- a house from the 13th century. It's wild to me that we could choose to live in a house that predates the Black Death. I'm just a simple girl from the Southwest, so back home, that would be akin to renting out a cliff dwelling or something. It's hard to wrap my brain around it.
It was a fascinating house with two separate stairwells, many little bedrooms and offices, and tiny period-sized windows. My imagination was running wild the whole time. The children, despite feeling a bit crummy, enjoyed poking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies, trying to imagine themselves living there. Sunburst had the rooms parceled out in no time, before heading out to explore the garden which was another world of its own.
First of all, there was a pigsty. Yes, an actual period building that housed pigs! It was jammed full of boxes and things, so we couldn't explore inside, but the actual outside sty part of it charmed me. The kids started dreaming up farm animals they could house there, like pygmy goats, and it wasn't hard to imagine. It was all very ethereal.
Next there was a giant outbuilding, like a garden house but larger, perhaps the size of what I imagine Laura Ingalls might have lived in at one time. It had a wide porch on it, the kind you could imagine somewhere on a hot day in the Deep South, sitting in your rocking chair, playing the banjo, and sipping lemonade. Completely out of place in England, I'll tell you. Until the sun came out four days ago, I couldn't even fathom a truly hot day here or drinking anything but a steaming cup of tea.
We couldn't explore inside that outbuilding either, because it too was crammed full of the forgotten remnants of someone else's life. In fact, the entire house and outbuildings were completely packed and overflowing with stuff. Clothes were strewn around the tiny kitchen, every closet and cupboard was bursting, and nearly every flat surface was laden with who knows what. It was so strange. I've never gone house hunting and encountered such a menagerie of, well... stuff in my life. The character of the house was a little lost because of it.
It was very old world meets new world in a way. And this wasn't lost on the children. Sunburst aptly pointed out how strange it was to see teetering piles of plastic toys in an old, wooden house. Or crayon and marker drawings all over the walls. It was surreal to say the least.
The strangeness didn't end in the house, it followed us into the garden where we also discovered an old grindstone and some abandoned bee boxes in the far corner of the garden. A little sleuthing under the overgrown ivy uncovered a sign advertising local honey. There was another outbuilding full of beekeeping supplies, strewn haphazardly about, as if several years ago the beekeeper walked out in the middle of his work and just left everything splayed out there.
Einstein has been considering keeping bees for some time now, so he was really intrigued by that one little room. And the garden itself, though overgrown and mysterious, stole my heart a little bit.
We mused about it the entire drive home. The village was adorable. The house is bigger than what we have now. But it's also darker, and by the signs of electric blankets on the beds, colder. Every room was heated with electric heaters. Every windowsill and corner had signs of mold, and the only word I can find to describe the wall in the stairwell is... mushy. It doesn't even matter that our car doesn't fit in the driveway or that our sofa wouldn't have a chance fitting through the tiny doorway. The mushy wall clenched it.
We're going to continue looking, but meanwhile, it sure does make the house we're in seem a whole lot nicer to come home too.