Rebecca: I was thinking about how important Independence Day is. How vital to our future and great an event in our heritage. But when we experienced it in the late 1790s, it was not the holiday and celebration we have today. For many people it was either a vague event in the near past or a day of reflection. Asa and I had no flags, or fireworks, or parades & BBQ to attend. It became our time to be reminded of how far we were from our lives in 2015. Celebration was limited to being thankful for being alive and well, in the past.
Asa: I was thinking today about what my hardest challenges were in adapting to life in the 18th century. For sure one of them was firewood. I could have nightmares about firewood. Firewood was needed for cooking, heating, boiling water, and silversmithing.
Since you couldn’t easily cut and split firewood in the winter or during rainy seasons, you had to stockpile more of it when the weather was nice. I had a lot to learn and many muscles to develop. No chainsaws or logsplitters then. An axe, a wedge, and muscles required. I was so slow and clumsy at first. And I had no knowledge of wood types. I had to learn that pine and maple and other soft woods burned faster than hardwoods like oak or cherry. So I would need twice as much maple as oak. I had to learn that wood needed to be aged for up to 4 months before it was properly seasoned for the fireplace. I had to cut and split wood everyday to keep up. At the beginning, I would be completely exhausted after 2 hours. By the time we left Dumfries, I could put in a full 8 hour day.
So how much wood did I need? It depended on the winter extremes. A mild winter would require maybe 6 cords; a harsh one maybe 10 (or 18 and 30 ricks). A cord is roughly a stack of split wood measuring 4’x4’x8′, 128 cu. ft.
Firewood made me strong and fit, and sore and tried. I was glad to give it up when we got to Lexington where we could buy it easily.
AUTHOR: I will be attending:
Historical Novel Society Conference, June 26-18, 2015 in Denver Colorado
My book will be for sale and I’ll be doing a book signing also.
It’s being held at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.
Asa: I loved falling asleep at night as a child listening to the rain pound the roof over my head and pulling up the covers tight when the thunder boomed. In the 1790s in Dumfries, it took on a more unpleasant nature. First, there were house leaks. Normally, one would just put pots and pails on the floor to last until the storm passed and repairs could be made. But I remember one time when a small drip, drip over our bed suddenly became a small waterfall directly into Rebecca’s face. I doubt she could even laugh about it today but at the time…. Second, there was the humidity and bugs afterwards. Lastly, it was the mud. Everywhere. Everywhere.
When we had moved to Lexington and into a larger brick house, the joy of falling rain returned anew. Like a long, lost friend, it found me. The window-rattling thunder, the brilliant lightning shattering the dark, and the torrential downpour of water still heard as the individual raindrops striking the roof.
Rebecca: There is a great peacefulness in the past. When I stood in Williamsburg in 1798 for the first time, I was struck by the quiet. We take in so many sounds today they we are not even aware of them. When you strip away all the cacophony of technology, -construction, traffic, conversations, airplanes- you become overwhelmed with the silence. With very few people and farm animals per square mile, ambient noise is reduced to insect buzzing, moos, neighs, and dogs barking. That silence is so soothing. You just want to stand there and listen to it. Of course, as we moved into more urban towns and cities less sleepy than withering Williamsburg, the silence was less frequent. But I’ll never forget that first time I was immersed in it. The world was a simple, serene place then, if only for a moment. I think we all need those moments, don’t you?
Rebecca: I guess I should have been expecting some more indelicate questions about how we managed to live in the 18th and 19th Century. Someone wants to know what we used for toilet paper. I feel like making up a silly but believable answer. And where will it lead next? OK, I’ll answer this one but let’s not continue on this thread. Leaves and cheap cloth, depending. OK? Enough said.
Asa: Well, I just heard today that our story is out in the world on Amazon.com. I guess we need to get ready for questions.
Rebecca: You mean I need to have answers ready. You’ll just get flustered.
Asa: Only when you are the person asking. At least now I won’t have to watch out for you using modern language in the past.
Rebecca: Let’s hope someone reads it.
Asa: Bite your tongue. It took 7 years to write our story. We must be patient.
Rebecca: I remember those times also. My shy silver boy! It was easy to fluster you with my charm. LOL. But I must say I was intrigued from the start. You were really handsome with those soft, gentle eyes. Something made me want to know more about you – about the mystery of you. So I tricked you into lunch, which became lunches and walks and before long, I found myself thinking about you too much.
Then my home life, what little there, was intruded. It grew more intolerable at the same time you were a comfort. I remember those times too, but much of that time I want to forget also.
My regular routine while I was in graduate school was to attend classes, do research, or do something else scholarly and then do lunch in Market Square near Historical Colonial Williamsburg. My head was full of American history. I had a project where I needed an authentic sack so I stopped in the Milliner’s shop. That was her first chance to fluster me. I was caught off-guard completely by her flirting and teasing. But she was captivating. I was so hooked by her bright eyes, I didn’t even check out her body. I had no prior experience with a vixen. LOL. Simple beginnings. First attraction. It makes me smile now, remembering…….
Asa: Hi I’m Asa. When our journey began, I was a 23-year-old graduate student at William & Mary, living in Williamsburg, Virginia and worked in the Colonial Williamsburg Silversmith’s shop. I met Rebecca and we shared lunches and fell in love while exploring the Historical area. We discovered a mirror is a time portal that led back to 1798. We used it and got trapped in 1798. We had to live out their lives in the past. I’ll be writing about that experience.
Rebecca: And I’m Rebecca. I’ll be telling my side of things and keeping Asa straight on the facts. (I’m the smarter one.)