Thursday, April 8, 2010

KEEPER OF THE NEST

All pictures from the Internet




Lawn Tea is being honored today with a link-up with Jeanne at http://backyardneighbor.typepad.com/backyard_neighbor/. I've enjoyed her blog for quite some time now, and really appreciate that she'd like to introduce us to her readers.

Thank you, Jeanne!

It's also Vintage Thursday, and though I have no pictures this time of any of my vintage items, I have been musing upon how our enjoyment of collecting things we love, and our instinctive love for decorating and keeping and making our homes pleasant and welcoming may have begun.

I am the Keeper of a Nest. I just read that concept, in those four little words, on Dear Daisy Cottage, and it was just as if I saw our home and my role in it in a slightly different way. I’ve been pondering that new idea---an idea as old as old can be, from the first fur-huddled families coping with the dark and cold in whatever sheltering cave they could lay bloody claim to.

In the great ages since then, this nesting thing has grown and grown; wars have been fought, and territories seized; lives have been staked and lost; castles and hovels and sheds have all been refuges from the same dark and cold.

And we, the Keepers, have padded these nests with the comforts we could afford or find or make or, in earlier, bleaker times, wrest from weaker nesters. As long as the WE of us were taken care of, the driving, surviving force in us left others outside our own fold to fend for themselves. Cloth and feathers for easing our rest, and chink-mud to keep out the elements; a floor and walls and the thatching for the rain; pots to cook in, water to drink, water to bathe----everything encountered, I think, was looked at as a measure to improve the comfort and well-being of the family.


I try to think of the heart and mind of the first nester to pick a flower, take it into the abode, and place it in a vessel formerly used only for practical purposes. And when that first blossom went into that first humble cup, something in the world clicked into a different place. We saw that our hands could create and provide not only comfort and necessities, but something beautiful, no matter how small or hard-won. I think it's part of our nature to crave something pretty to enhance our worlds.

I think of my own forebears---especially those women of the Scottish Highlands. The centuries of deprivation and hunger and cold, the waiting for the men’s return from battle, the dread of loss, of starvation, of eking out that last scatter of oats or mutton-fat into a meager bowl for their families. That sharp, chilling wind and the sparse landscape, with nothing between it and their clan but their own courage and work. How they must have waited and wept, with hope fragile as life, and despair as their daily bread. And what WAS beautiful in their lives? Did they just stand looking at the sunrises and sunsets, or the hills with their fleeting purple haze?

We went to see; we rode and walked those hills of the Highlands, and the great spaces and crags and rust-hued rocky expanses are still there, looming and forbidding, their only beauty the blush of purplish heather in the Spring and perhaps the necklaces of the stone fences and crofts, laced upon the hillsides to mark their territory, like pearls strung on a map.


And I thought deeply of those Grand-Dams of mine, those centuries-back female ancestors, whose lives were grim and sere---I could see them woad-smeared and wielding weapons, as easily as I could imagine their tending their smoky fires and nursing babies too soon gone. I hope they had the solace and uplift of something pretty---a polished stone, a braid of grass, a bird egg hand-cradled miles home, just for its curve of glorious color---and I hope they felt the great accomplishment of adding to the life of their family, not just their survival.



The other side of me came from other parts of the British isles, told in the “Nutmegs” post last year. And Heaven knows, when my ancestor came over/was transported BECAUSE of those nutmegs, the things back in Ireland and England weren’t much to write home about, either, for folks of our working class.

So I suppose that yearning for a home, for a comfortable place to live and raise children, is so ingrained in my genes that I love being home, putting little touches, finding little additions, prinking with a curtain, a bit of lace, an old brooch which would look nice on a totted-up lampshade---those are certainly not talents, but needs, I think.

I NEED to make a nest, to feather it well for me and mine, to add and subtract (the subtracting part becomes more difficult with the addition of each year) and to make it comfortable and warm and welcoming. And whether our nests are the neat rounds of redbirds, with smooth straw and feathers for warmth, or the mud-daubed hammock-roosts of swallows, or the thatchy, gewgaw-frantic piles of magpie gleanings, the lost pull-tabs and gum wrappers arranged into their own wee versions of tatty yards with an old Maytag and a rusting Ford sprawled about---they are OURS, with our mark upon them.


So, we choose our own nests, and we build them to fit the fabric and the taste and the tenor of our own lives.



A bright-lit, topsy-turvy bursting-at-the-seams one, a little bit different from most, with its own windswept flair and all awhirl with people and activity and the bustle of daily life:






Or a serene sunlit spot, safely high, with a lovely view of the world, the cool blue beckoning you home.






Or my own choice: A soft, comfy happy nest, with a lot of comfort, a little bit of something beautiful, and a lot of chicks to fill it.

That's my kind of nest.


Edited at 3 p.m. to add: We've also just been linked by Tonja at http://tonjasgatherings.blogspot.com/ ---she left a lovely comment, then recommended today's post to her own readers. Thank you ALL!

17 comments:

Southern Lady said...

Oh, Rachel ... you never ever cease to amaze, awe, and inspire me with your God-given way with words. This is so beautiful ... it should be within the pages of a book with all your other stories.

In my humble opinion, Eudora Welty's writing doesn't hold a candle to yours, my friend.

Tonja said...

I feel as though I have read a prayer. A prayer of thanks and thanksgiving. I feel as if I have heard holy words speaking about the way of the heart of a homemaker. I am near tears, and that is not very common for me. But, your words reached my soul today and made me glad to be who I am and to do what I do. Thank you, my friend!

racheld said...

My Goodness, Y'all!!

You Southern Sister-Girls are just SOOO sweet!! I don't know what to say to either one of these lovely comments.

I've been trying since I first looked in this morning to think of what to say to YOU, Janie, about your Miss Welty comment---I was just stunned, and had to call Chris over to stand behind me and read it. Of course, he always concurs with nice things people say. And grins.

But that---that one line alone would have made my day and a lot of the ones to follow. What a compliment!!

And Tonja,

You came right along and said those lovely, heart-touching words which make me feel even more humble and unworthy to accept them.

I'm just so glad that you took a message from what I said; I felt that I'd tossed it down just haphazardly, because I wrote it in such a blast of energy and ideas that I didn't stop to proofread until almost time to post. We'd put it off and put it off, week after week, til I felt that I was just tagging Jeanne along with promises I wasn't keeping.

She had asked me weeks ago about linking to here so that her readers could look in, and there was so much going on on her part AND mine, and we kept postponing, and I kept trying to think of something which would appeal to the readers who come in expecting Vintage Thursday pictures and objects.

But I just started writing down my feelings about the ones who came before us, the women (mostly) who DID feather the nests, who DID care if there was something beautiful in their families' lives, who gave and worked and saw to and nurtured and tended souls as well as bodies, when they were doing well to keep the two together.

And that's about that. Thank you both---I value your words and opinions very much, both of you, and I thank you from my heart.

CC said...

I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your writings. You're so very talented..and you should begin a book.
I do research on both sides of my family..and to look back into the past,at the women who came before me..and thinking of the women who will come after me,it's like we all touch hands..each guiding the next woman to follow.I too hope the women in my past,found joy and some beauty in their lives. I know they were avid in needlework,and insisted on my learning all I could..with the elders teaching me. I've never forgotten the love and gentleness of these ladies..I know now of their hardships..and their lives,and I am so thankful to them for the smiles,the gentle touch of their hands..some so wrinkled next to my young hands., and I fill with pride, for they were strong women..and yet so gentle.
Your post touched me so deeply..thank you.

Maggie McArthur said...

I could just feel in my writer's heart that this gorgeous story just POURED from your heart and head, as lyrical as birdsong. I share the Scots foremothers with you and I've often thought what they'd make of my humble nest -- which most resembles your topsey-turvey first example. Heat, light, hot water on demand -- a washing machine!

With all love and respect to Miz Eudora, she's not a patch on you, Dear. Really.

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel, it has taken me all day to get to your post. We have terrible weather here today and the connection to the net is so radical. I waited a very long time to allow your post to come up. Our tower is on the top of our highest mountain called Wayah Bald and bad weather is always a problem. Today I wanted to visit many of my friends and for a change I have the time. sigh!

I laughed when you said you are wordy. I am the queen of wordy when it comes to commenting. No wonder I can't get to all my friends. HA!I hope the end of the day will bring some new blogging friends. I am leaving my post up tomorrow too.

Hugs, Jeanne

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

Rachel, you leave me speechless. I so enjoy reading your post. I agree with Southern Lady this should be in a book. You have such a way with words and telling a story that keeps me glued to the page untill I finish reading it all.
Molly

LV said...

My first visit to your blog. You just about blew me away with all that writing. I am not too good at that sort of thing, but enjoy what others share. I truly enjoyed your blog. Thanks to Jeanne for introducing you to us. You need to write books with your talent for words.

Southern Lady said...

Rachel, just stopping by to start my day with a visit to one of my favorite people. I love that first picture and can just imagine the excitement the photographer felt as he or she clicked the shutter button. I'm sure it was akin to the emotions your beautiful words evoke every time I read them.

Daisy Cottage said...

((((Rachel)))))

What a beautiful post. So eloquently written and shared. Thank you. And YOU are a most lovely keeper of the nest.

Love,
Kim

Beverly said...

Jeanne is my best friend, and she told me I must come visit you - and I always listen to Jeanne. ;-)

And, I am so glad I did. I wonder how it is that I haven't met you earlier. Your blog is a delight.

Home. Those four letters hold incredible meaning. We all bring so much of who we are into making our homes. Your capture of your feelings is exquisite.

racheld said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Loved every word of this "chapter" of your book and look forward to the hard cover "whole" book - second on all the compliments. You HAVE started-all you need is an agent--hope someone puts the right person in touch with you.

P.S. Have you ever visited the blog "whitespraypaint.blogspot.com"? I think you would like her and she would like you.

"this is how I see the world" said...

It just so reminds me of the " a home is what you make it" phrase - Everyone has thier own way of expressing comfort and love to thier families. Those little birds work so hard gathering, only to be hampered by winds, sometimes unwanted predators, and mothering issues like babies falling out of those nests because they must have had minds of thier own.

So funny - you've really got my mind going. Thanks for that. Enjoyed the way you see the world and thanks for stopping by to see the way I see mine.

Julie

"this is how I see the world" said...

It just so reminds me of the " a home is what you make it" phrase - Everyone has thier own way of expressing comfort and love to thier families. Those little birds work so hard gathering, only to be hampered by winds, sometimes unwanted predators, and mothering issues like babies falling out of those nests because they must have had minds of thier own.
Nature and moms , nests and homes, baby birds and kids. We're all the same.

So funny - you've really got my mind going. Thanks for that. Enjoyed the way you see the world and thanks for stopping by to see the way I see mine.

Julie

Laura said...

Hi Racheld-
Thank you for making such a generous comment on my blog.

This evening I feel like I have met a kindred spirit.

For me, through the quirky or the heartfelt, it is always about the writing.

If you have time to go back into my archives, I'd be so pleased and appreciative if you read 'I Am a Writer".

Your post transported us all-
I am a point in my life where I don't want to leave my nest!

What is another reason we are kindred spirits?

James Lee Burke

Dave Robecheaux- the perfect Everyman.

Enjoyed visiting,

Laura

White Spray Paint

racheld said...

OH, Y'all!!

I feel that I should be sitting in a sunlit morning room, at an escritoire, with pen and ink to hand, and a pretty quilted box of lovely paper, to write each of you my thanks in a proper manner.

There are just no words for the feeling of all these visitors and the outpouring of lovely words from new friends and old, for the wonderful outreach of this marvelous medium, which brings untold blessings every day in the form of color and light and pictures and the stories and anecdotes and sheer talents of others.

Thank you all SO much---we all long for home---to keep one, to make it, to return to one long-remembered. And I love that you took time to come and speak of your treasuring the thought as well.

This has been a joyous couple of days, with instant surprises every time I open this Magical Mailbox of a machine, with all these wonderful letters from friends.

Thank you all.