Gram-Letter9-art - 7/19/15
"To a Daughter Left Behind" 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 9 of 11 articles in this series.
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
This article was originally published in the "Tal-Mere Tidings", the newsletter of the Shire of Tal-Mere, Kingdom of Meridies.
To a Daughter Left Behind
by Lady Shara of Starwood, OVO, CMC, AoA
My sweet Meghan...
By now Rebecca should be well on her way and you should be feeling the same feelings of both gladness, pride, and worry that I felt the first time you set foot to that same dusty road over 20 years ago at almost the same age. No doubt my own mother knew the same in her time, though she never expressed word of it to my hearing, only encouragement to go and glad tears upon my safe returning. I wonder that nothing seems to change but the seasons and the names of the travelers; the world continues on, as a play eternal, gathering smiles and tears in a ball of snow racing down a mountainside toward our grave, at the bottom, before our return home to our blessed Father above.
I won't even try to tell you not to worry for I know you will til she's warm in your arms once more. But for whatever comfort you may find in my assurances, know that the road she travels is far safer today than it was 40 years ago and the number of her seasoned companions makes it more so. She goes with the strength of our prayers and the wealth of our own experiences, and most of all, with the assurance of Our Dear Lord's blessing watching over her and so all will surely be well, for He would not give her to us, only to abandon her now when she is so eagerly set about to find approval in His eyes.
I have discovered that in my ramblings to her over the last Winter, that I forgot to tell her of the need to purchase bedding and food stuffs for her crossing into France.... But those with her will already know of these things and Dear Robert has gone with sufficient coin to purchase whatever is needed to assure her comfort, such as it may be had along the way.
As I write to you I would change the direction of this missive and speak of everyday things for a moment, as there is little more to be said of Rebecca, until she returns.
From the South-facing window of my chamber I can see fine healthy calves a-plenty in the pastures below and beyond. Our new bull hath done himself proud with this lot and should show good service for many more a year. Your father is as proud of that animal as of any son he himself, ever sired. Why do you think it is that men put such pride in ownership, or victory, when we, as wives and mothers, put our pride into what we grow and nourish to maturity and then must let go of, and start again.(?)
Speaking of which, almost all the fruit trees here are in full bloom. The pear and almond, cherry and plum, are all sweet and alive with honey bees and I know by their sweet hummming that the new year has truely awakened. One day, almost a week ago, it was so warm that the young folks made haste to the pond to play joyfully in the cold water there. I discovered them with my ear long before I came upon them as I went about one of my Spring walks searching out newly awakened plants stretching to the sky after their long winter's rest.
I so envied the children their freedom to take such delight in a warm sun-filled day, for they've not had such for so long. Tis not that I, myself, have totally forsaken such pleasures for beneath this veil of silver locks and time-sculpted features still lives the child I once was, but to frolic in the sun would be most unseemly in the dignity of my old age. Still I will wait for warmer nights and the cloak of darkness to take a walk with your father to the pond, to seek it's cool peace. Your father has always said that the moonlight is kind to me, even now, and sheds years from my face reminding him of our early days together. When the sun was a friend and my mother often scolded that I was to hide from it and keep my skin white and pure and not the warm gold of a mere peasant's daughter. I paid her little heed then, I remember her scoldings now with a smile, and wish I could hear them again.....but soon enough. As I get older, I once thought I would know all the answers to my questions about God's plan and life as a whole, but I find that I have only had more years to discover more questions to ask while I await still the promised wisdom to answer them all.
The pond is quiet now, for but a day and a night had but to pass before we were beset with cold winds from the North and West and stinging rain and then the pond crusted it's edges with a crystal-like rim of ice, and I am chilled to the bone and no amount of hot broth can seem to make me warm again. I am determined, I will take no moon-lit walks to the pond til the trees grow rich with swelling fruit, for by then I may have thawed my aching bones.
We have had a mishap with young Adam. He had set about the task of collecting eggs from high places and misplaced a foot when he climbed higher than the others dared on the rocks. He is lucky to have suffered no more than some cuts and scratches and a badly broken arm which I have had set and packed well with some of the newly emerging comfrey leaves which I applied the crushed juice of, well into his wound and the leaves around it, and bound it tight to his breast so it may heal safely. Alas it is his right arm and so he will be unfit at the forge for awhile but the good news is that he has lost his interest, for the moment, in showing off to the younger ones and they, seeing blood and pain upon him are sufficiently frightened not to go trying to improve upon his climb, and are content while memory haunts them, to collect eggs nearer the ground. Small blessing though it is, I will take what I can get to assure peace for awhile.
We saw your Aunt Wrenne and Aunt Morgan last week. They were at Spring Faire. I have been in touch with Wrenne so I knew to expect her there with Callum. Your father and I were so glad to see them and of course they came here to stay for a few days for a long visit. The men sat up late into the nights, drinking such ale as we still had, and speaking together in their native tongue of memories of their boyhoods in Eire, while Wrenne and I talked of children and grandbabies and our gardens and the painting we've always shared a small talent for. Wrenne had been ill and lost a fair amount of weight she could scarcely afford to lose, but had otherwise not changed at all and was still as lovely as always. Callum never ceases to amaze me, dispite his advancing years, he still sports the same long flaxen locks of his youth and may be easily mistaken for a girl if not for that fringe across his upper lip, when he turns and smiles.
Your Aunt Morgan was the real surprise at the fair. I had just made the purchase of a new spinning wheel and turned the row to be confronted with the sight of Morgan within a stall, herself the proprietor of it's contents, her being at the faire to sell, rather than to buy. I was stunned. We fell out of touch a year or two ago, I knew not why as we'd had no disagreement but my missives to her were never replied to, and now I know why. Her situation had turned from comfortable widow to that of a suddenly hungry one and she was forced to pack her immediate needs and leave from that place she'd called home, to a shire in another place where she could earn her bread by means of her swift needle and fyne hand. We found her at the faire, the seller of simple but warm, woolen cloaks and fyne wrought men's smocks and a good business she was making of it too, from the looks of her, as she was plump and in good spirits and would hear nothing of our pleas to return with us to Starwood (though she has promised to come for a visit when she can.....at which time I hope to pursuade her to stay and live out her years in comfort)
She was always prideful and independent. Tis no wonder her children grown have had no sucess in bidding her to retire to their homes and enjoy her grandchildren about. I but hope we may be more pursuasive than they and see her settled once more.
She assures us that she is content and in good health and lacks not for anything she must have, and yet she is there amongst the tradesmen like a common shopkeeper when her station in this life should have been to have servants waiting upon her, at her beck and call and her later years given to carefree idleness.
I would not leave her til I had in my hand the means to contact her, and her assurance that she would regularly send word to us of her health and let us know if and when we could be of aid to her. Twas her own stubborn pride that had kept her of informing us of her change in circumstances. We are too old for such luxuries as pride. That should have gone the way of our youth, nought but a memory to look back upon and smile on or regret over, but not to try and resurrect from old bones. Hopefully she will keep her promise, for I would not lose her a second time, not when the years left to us are so few and uncertain.
On this note, my sweet Meghan, I'll end this lengthy missive. Please stay in touch and tell me of news there, as I have of it here and tell me of my other grandchildren and how they fair and of you yourself and let me know if you have word of Rebecca. I know that Robert plans to come back this way before returning to his beloved Scotland and he will have much to tell of Rebecca's experiences.....It is my hope that she will return here with him so I may hear them best from her lips, so that Robert may be sooner on his way, and please, could you and Jon come and bring the other children? We have missed you all so badly and I would have about me the voices of my own blood, to smother the sound of Sara's sullen moodiness. Adam baits her constantly, in his good-natured way, and she growls at him like an old dog. God forgive me, but I welcome the day she decides to take leave of us. As for Adam, that day will come soon enough I fear, and I shall miss him as if he were my own, but for now, he stays, much to my heart's delight. Still, I would have my own about me, for we have missed you all.
My love to the children, and a warm embrace to the man who makes you laugh. I thank God every day for guiding him to you.
All is well, here at Starwood.
Your father and I are content.
Copyright 2001 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.