Wednesday, January 28, 2009
No Rest For the Weary
Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Sweep on Wednesday
Mend on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday
I came across this list the other day and it made me wonder if we’re really better off now than we were 100 years ago when that was written. When I was a child, the weeks still had a rhythm like the one above, though with minor changes. Because she had a washing machine, and we apparently had a lot more clothes than the composer of that list, Mama washed twice a week. She did a white wash on Monday and a dark wash on Wednesday. She ironed two days a week, too, putting the flat linens through the mangle on one day, and smoothing the blouses, shirts, trousers, and dresses with a flat iron the next. On those days, the kitchen smelled of pressed sunshine and starch.
Sweeping was an everyday occurrence. There were four of us kids plus a dog and a cat and we all left evidence behind us. A thorough house cleaning took two days, not one, omitting the mending day, which was fine with Mama. She hated sewing and the thought of spending a whole day with needle and thread would have sent her screaming into the wilderness. Twice a year - in the fall, and again just before the snow melted - the house would be turned upside down and inside out. We kids would be pressed into service, moving furniture, hauling rugs outside to be beaten with brooms, polishing the silver that otherwise stayed wrapped in a cloth waiting for company to come to dinner.
Saturday was just one more baking day in the week. There were always cookies or brownies or cupcakes waiting for us when we got home from school but Saturdays were reserved for bread-making. The dough would rise in the big yellow bowl on the open door of the gas oven and Saturday supper would be accompanied by thick slices of warm bread slathered with butter. Sunday mornings were a bustle to get the roast and the pie in the oven and all of us to church, but Sunday afternoons stretched themselves out like long naps.
Nowadays, my verse looks like this: Work on Monday. Work on Tuesday. Work on Wednesday. Work on Thursday. Work on Friday. Chores on Saturday. Bake on Sunday. The pile of laundry is taller than I am, the breadbox is empty, the floor needs a good scrubbing, the grocery list is as long as my arm, and I can’t even find my iron.
Save me from progress! I am nostalgic for the old days when a verse could give order to the week and end with the wonderful word “rest.”
photo credit: Mandy's Photos