Gram-Letter5-art - 7/19/15
"Belated Yule Tide News" by Lady Shara of Starwood, OVO, CMC, AoA. A series of articles on various crafts and medieval life written in first-person style. This is number 5 of 11 articles.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set
of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at:
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be
reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first
or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris
AKA: Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Belated Yule Tide News
by Lady Shara of Starwood, OVO, CMC, AoA
By the time you receive this, our taxes will have since been paid, and the Yule Tide also have passed, as even now, it draws nigh, in only a fortnight.
I sorrow to hear that you are ill, and will not be with us here for our celebration, but I'm glad it is not serious, but only a case of the sniffles and such, that keeps you from traveling and thus from our presence.Take good care, as I know you are well-cared for by your mother's old nurse,and perhaps, God willing, I shall still see you once, before you sally forth on your Spring quest and adventures.
It's just as well that you aren't on the roads, as I pity those who must and am ever so greatful for those who do so in the holiday spirit to come here in good and loving cheer. For the roads are a nightmare of mud by day and ice by colder eve, as we've had little but cold rains and sleet and even bouts of snow, to frost the meadows and all about the manor, where evennow it lurks, still, in shadowed places. The cold has been such that the well rope, has been fast-held to it's pulley for near a week, and so we've had to haul the cold water, from it's depths by sheer muscle alone.
I have heard such such language as the Lord knows I can not repeat, as once, the hard won bucket was dropped back into the well by frozen hands before it's contents could be transfered to another, and had once more, to be hauled up, again, by hands too numb to hold easily the icy coarseness of it's rope, but yet the strength of a temper frayed to asure success. And yet another time, it slipped from the ice-slicked edge of the well, and spilled the whole of it's contents upon young Adam, nearly freezing him to death, and thus spoiling his victory over the gaining of the prize. (he was put promptly before the hearth, and given dry clothes and warmed cider, and was soon his cheerful self, once more, with no more to have lost, than a month's worth of dirt-stained garments.)
I was much about the business of the loom, until the storm crept down upon us and then I gave up, as my feet were mostly frozen and my fingers too numb to cast the shuttles, in the much too cold room. (I really wish your grandfather could see to it that the lads would keep the wood rick by the outter door, better supplied), as it was, Sarah was not quick enough about the task of replacing the hot waters in the pottery bottles I tried to keep my feet warm upon ...to say she was lax in her duties, would be to imply that I knew of her where-a-bouts and her duties not being performed, while I awaited relief. (But, she insisted, each time, that she was genuinely occupied in some needful task, and time escaped her to remember my needs for the water....and I, too confined to the loom to search for her, could prove no different). I, at last, gave up, and retired to my room to relax by my hearth, and work on my embroidery as I have spent many evenings hence.
But days! Oh, the days. We are much ascramble trying to prepare for the family and visitors! So much food planned! There will be a proper feast for our guests this Christmas Tide, such as leaner years have denied us to have for so long, even if we see little the rest of the season (as is always the case, so it seems). There will be more than enough to remember this celebration.
Your grandfather has brought back from the hunt the most gigantic boar, ever to be seen in my memory, and such he is, that his head shall be a source of awe, in the center of the sideboard. The children have been promised a bright ha-penny to the one who locates the largest apple to prop open it's monsterous jaws....they are much a problem in the cellers and straw, seeking treasure to exchange for coin, that I fear, t’will be quite the mess to repair from this idea of your grandfather's. He thought it such a good one, at the time, but he'd forgotten the apples were all gathered and stored already. Too late, he realized his mistake, and the children already afoot, and out from under. But, even now as I write, he is seeing to the hams and ribs and bacon from the boar, as Sarah, I hope, is busy about the sausages...I saw her but a moment ago, but the kitchen is not so large that her absence may be hidden from me for long, as she knows there is much work to be done and little time left to do it all...I will not forgive her if she is away napping, when even I am unable to.
The guests have begun arriving, and many bearing gifts. Sir Richard has come, proudly, bearing bags of gold. or so I would interpret the heavily laden bags of oranges he hath secured from Spain! Oranges! With this, he could surely buy my heart if it were not already in safe-keeping in your grandfather's gentle hands....
By now, you will have the three I secured for you, to send back with this missive. I'd thought to send them with Alfred, but as your mother should be here any time now, I will place them myself into her safe keeping, along with some simples and herbs for your comfort, and some comfits for your pleasure, not to mention ribbons of vert, for your bright copper curls. But there is also yours, 2 lengths of brocade and a length of silk for new gowns and a length of fine linen to make you into comfortable traveling clothes.
The oranges I will tuck into my old, well-traveled, leather script along with your ribbons, this missive, oh, and a small emerald ring of mine, the one you've so long admired for it's rich color, and if I leave this earth before I see you again, I would be glad of it safely on your hand. If you would, there is still life in the script I carried so very many miles, please, would you mind so much, to let it journey once more by young feet? It has seen me mostly safe; through so much so far. I would not see it retire so soon to a chest forgotten, it's purpose ended.
Ah. Sarah returns from feeding the goose. So that is what's taken her so long. As she hates that goose, and it she, still so greedily do they look upon one another with eager thought to a meal. It's not that the goose must be coaxed to eat, for it will snatch at any hand that draws near enough, but after it's had it's fill, so still must Sarah grab it's head, and force a small cow horn with a hole where the tip once was, down it's throat, to force even more food down it's now reluctant gullet. My simple Sarah, does this with a determination, and a relish spurred both by her dislike of the foul-tempered bird, and anticipation of dining on it's well-fatted liver in the days to come. Even so, I must laugh to see them eye each other, for if she comes too close to it's caged place outside the kitchen door without food, it honks and hisses in frustrated rage. It would pinch her mightily anywhere it might reach, were it not so secured. And she, I swear, she goes out of her way to pass near it, at every opportunity, flaunting her own freedom (such as it is) and reminding it of the delicious treat it will make upon her toasted bread, come the holiday feasting.
Oh! In the course of my ramblings, I have near forgotten to tell you! Your aunt Gwen (Sister Mary Frances) has been granted leave from Saint Catherine's, to join the family for Christmas(!) and is here already! I am SO happy! This will be the first Christmas in many many years, that all my children (not in heaven awaiting me) will be together with me.......all except Alexander, whom no-one knows the where-a-bouts of, or even if he lives still, but he hath been gone for so long without a word of his safety that, like as now, I oft forget him for a moment when I count my remaining blessings, and many there are, so I do not complain, I assure you.
Anyway, Gwen (for I cannot call her any else) is here! Her laughter rings through these dark halls like sun-beams down a well, and it already seems like she never left...
I remember when she was small, she had a huge rabbit your grandfather had given her, for so did she love soft fur, to nuzzle, that Annie's kittens were not safe from her abduction of them. The rabbit was your grandfather's way of distracting his willfull rag-a-muffin, from Annie's pitiful pleas. Your aunt carried that rabbit (named Master Wiggles, as I recall) from the time he was a tiny handfull, her nose burried in his soft fur, everywhere she went. He never left her, and as she grew from a toddler of two, still he grew even faster, and there he was, all white mostly, covered with big patches of black, and ears so long they could not stand, and so hung to the ground like those of your grandfather's hounds. And he grew so enourmously huge that she would straddle him and with her chubby little arms, would haul him up as she stood, and still his feet would drag as she waddled around lugging him from place to place. Never did he seem to mind, for he protested not at all (I guess he was used to it) and oft-times I'd find them sleeping in a corner together, rabbit and child, innocent of all and content to sleep wherever exhaustion left them. Oh, how she loved him, and so many others over the years, until she left us. She tells me, that there's a cat at the convent who's chosen to adopt her, and she's glad of it, for if there's one thing she misses most of home, it's the many animal children she'd had here that she cannot have there. The convent cat is called 'Angel' and her domain is the kitchen where she keeps the evil mice in check and patrols in daylight in search of tasty crickets and such tidbits as may be begged from the sisters who work there. By the way, your Aunt Gwen is sending you a small gift, a prayer book to comfort you whenever the need arises; look well into the script I'm sending, for it will be there as well as any other surprises I can think of,before your mother returns home to you with it. You will know, without a doubt, that your absence did not go un-noticed, and all send their love to you.
My sweet girl, I must close here, as I am needed now by others about the kitchen. So much to do; so little time. But oh, I am happy, our Dear Lord Knows I am happy. My only touch of saddness this joyful season, is in the missing of your dear face, even as I am surrounded by others, and the sight of your bright copper tresses.
Til we may be together again.
God be with you, as I cannot.
Copyright 2000 by R.D. Wertz. <windsingersmoon at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in
the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also
appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being
reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.