September 18

We ended up at the Arts & Crafts Show in Historic Deerfield (a New England history and art museum set on a mile-long street carved out in 1671 with 18th and 19th century houses still standing) today.

If you’re into collecting quilts or capes or pre-packaged party spice mixes or John Tesh-style music (some of which I like more than others), then this might be your kind of scene. Or you may find the smell of fried dough, pierogi, or holubsti (ukranian stuffed cabbage rolls) more alluring than the crafts.

Not to mention the historic locale. Built in 1747, The Wells-Thorn house shows what life was like for the English colonists from 1727 to the early 1850s. I walked downstairs only to end up in the kitchen. Two ladies joined the kitchen tour, one room centered around an open-face fire. The docent sat in the corner and told us about early frontier hardships. Frequent raids by the French, Abenaki, and Mohawk Indians prevented the early village dwellers from keeping more than a portable wood-plank kitchen table, fire arms, kettles, and a barrel in the kitchen.

Pots of thick pea porridge were cooked in a kettle and eaten over the course several days (possibly nine). A few sprigs of mint thrown in helped break down the legumes over the fire and in the body, and added extra flavor flavor. Which is where the rhyme “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in a pot nine days old” is commonly thought to come from.

Personal hygiene meant an occasional splash of water so open hearth cooking was deadly, from third degree burns that become infected without return and led to death. While we were on the subject, the other ladies on the tour said they recently learned the origins of “dead ringer” and “graveyard shift” while touring a New Orleans cemetery. Not to be flippant or grim, but dead ringer (meaning exact duplicate) may suggest, as they claimed, that bodies were buried with a bell on either end of a rope so that if a person were accidently buried alive, someone would be alerted above ground. Likely the caretaker working the graveyard shift (from midnight to eight am) heard the bells.

Then again, the origin of these phrases may be hearsay or not depending on what you choose to believe.


Outside the Barnard Tavern located on The Street in Historic Deerfield.

Anyway, the kitchen tour was worth it.

For September, I’m giving myself an art challenge: blog a photo a day.

Feel free to join me, just leave a comment and a link to your photo post.

Let’s go make some art.

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