Mulling Over a Few Things

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Something different for my blog post today!

Lately, events of the last two pandemic years have been shuffling around my little gray cells. I do believe my brain is wired strangely because what’s emerged is not the usual pandemic ponderings.

The first thought is of gratitude that no one I know died of Covid. I know that’s not true for many.

Second, I now have two grandchildren, whose presence blesses me with smiles and laughter every day. Eli is almost two and a happy kid with interests in all sorts of things: birds, cars and trucks, drawing, music. I love playing with him – something I recall having little time to do with his mother and uncle when they were growing up. Too busy attending to their needs – so that’s what grandparents are for! Alexandra is too young, not yet two months, but her little round baby face makes me want to protect her from all the bumps in life.  I do wonder what will come of them, especially since I am an older grandmother and won’t be around for most of their lifetime.

I feel like singing Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely?

Third, I have a husband who puts up with my craziness after more than 50 years of marriage. My latest finagling has to do with getting another cat and also an e (electric)-bike.* I’ll let you know how that works out.

Fourth, although I cried every day for a month after moving from our home of 35 years, I am coming to realize that living on one floor and having good neighbors is a real compensation, not to mention a new house that doesn’t require us to drain our savings on a regular basis.

Fifth, I have an idiot cat who sleeps with me at night so I can fall asleep petting him. That makes up for the fact that I vacuum up enough hair to make another cat each week.

Sixth, we are lucky to have longtime friends who seem to be there when we need anything – watching the house, driving us to the airport – and willingly sample any of my more dubious off-the-cuff cooking/baking creations.

Sixth, I wonder why it is so hard to take off the weight that was so easy to put on. Gets harder every year, despite long walks with creaky joints.

Seven, how wonderful it is to get into a pool and just swim. Laps and laps that clear the mind and help focus on life’s tangles. And how to untangle them.

 

 

 

 

Eight, although my body is now made up of a lot of artificial parts, it’s still functioning well. Aging isn’t for the weak of heart, but it can still be enjoyable.

I have two of each of these and a plate in my neck, but being bionic, I’m still going.

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All in all, I do believe I am pretty lucky person, content with my life.

What have you been pondering lately? Are you content? Would love some add-ons to my list!

 

* FYI, a bill that would offer Americans a refundable tax credit on the purchase of a new electric bicycle was just introduced in the Senate by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), as a way to cut down on car emissions. The bill is called the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment, or E-BIKE Act. E-bikes are pretty expensive, ranging from $1000 t0 $5000 or more. Schatz and Markey’s legislation would offer Americans a refundable tax credit worth 30 percent of a new e-bike’s purchase price, capped at $1,500.

I think HUBS just might go for this. Look for some pictures of mine pretty soon!

 

Some doggerel about to-be-read lists

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In response to the challenge by D. Wallace Peach to write a poem or story about your e-book TBR list, or in my case pile, (see: https://mythsofthemirror.com/2022/01/09/writing-challenge-the-teetering-tbr-pile/?c=104189#comment-104189). Here is my contribution, over which I labored for at least five minutes.

My TBR pile, it seems,

Is taking over my dreams.

Last night I dreamed of a hat.

You know the one that sat

Looking sage on a table at Hogwart’s

And divided the kids into all sorts

Of magical schools.

This one, all floppy and chatty,

Sat atop my pile, looking tatty.

It dithered and vexed

About the book to choose next.

It was no help at all

As pile did fall

Smothering me.

Needless to say, I woke up screaming! Thanks, Diana, for this vision!

Favorite Books I Reviewed in 2021

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I have reviewed a total of twenty-eight books on my blog this year, most of them for Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I hereby reveal my five favorites. These you won’t find on the New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, but given my general dissatisfaction with what I did read off those lists this year, we clearly need a way to get the news out there about options. Rosie’s Reviews is the way to do it!

 

At the top of the list is Fae or Foe by CA Deegan, a delightful surprise for someone who ordinarily doesn’t like books about fantastical/magical things (the exception being the Harry Potter series.) This book and its sequel was an eye-opener, a YA book of adventure at its highest in a world previously unimagined. You can find my review here:

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5928&action=edit

Second on the list is Megacity by Terry Tyler. Terry is the queen of dystopian fiction, in my eyes, and a consummate world builder. This is a story of future and frightening governmental control that we might yet see. You can find my review here:

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5576&action=edit

 

Third is The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by  D. Wallace Peach. She is another master of world creation. In The Ferryman and the Sea Witch, she blends a romping nautical adventure with a population of beautiful and deadly Merrows (think mer-people on steroids) and various greedy, powerful rulers and just plain nasty characters. You can find my review here:

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5568&action=edit

 

Fourth is The Drowning Land by David M. Danachie, prehistorical fiction, set in northern Europe a little over eight thousand years ago. It combines adventure, a romance, and disaster against the setting of a land that literally is sinking beneath the sea and is based on a huge underwater slide that created a sudden and catastrophic tsunami that engulfed Doggerland, which connected Great Britain to the European continent and was a rich habitat for the Mesolithic populations. You can find my review here:

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5438&action

 

And fifth is Foxe and the Moon-Shadowed Murders by William Savage. In the eighth book in this series, Ashmole Foxe, a bookseller in Norwich, England, during the Georgian era who has acquired a solid reputation for solving murders, must solve the murder of the Honourable Henry Pryce-Perkins, the youngest son of a peer of the realm and a brilliant scholar at Oxford. A layered puzzle for the reader in a detailed historical setting. You can find my review here:

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5966&action=edit

These are by far not the only books I read this past year. I only wish I had had time to review all of them!

Book Review: Foxe and the Moon-Shadowed Murders: An Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mystery by William Savage (@penandpension) #Georgian Mystery

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I have read and reviewed all the books in this series, and it was so enjoyable to sit down and meet up with all the characters I’ve come to love and see the developments in their lives. That being said, anyone can pick up this book and enjoy the tale without having read the previous books. I will say for me this is the best in the series. The author seems to up his game with each new mystery.

Ashmole Foxe is a bookseller in Norwich, England, during the Georgian era. He is well-to-do from the sales of his bookstore and also his ability to find and sell rare books for significant profit. All of this he finds mundane, and over the years he has acquired a solid reputation for solving murders, which has become his raison d’etre.

This time he is called to visit the Bishop of St. Stephen’s Church, where the body of a young clergyman was discovered outside his home. The victim, the Honourable Henry Pryce-Perkins, was the warden of St. Stephen’s Hospital, a sort of retirement home for male servants and other people who worked for members of the cathedral clergy. He was also both the youngest son of a peer of the realm and a brilliant scholar at Oxford. How did he end up with a dead-end (pardon the pun) position as warden of the hospital, when he should have been moving on to a large and prestigious parish?

Street children are favorites of Foxe, and he treats them with respect and gives them money to survive. So it is not surprising that soon after the Bishop’s call, street children lead him to the richly dressed body of a young woman in a house that its neighbors swear is haunted.  The house also sits strangely empty at the entrance to one of the notorious ‘yards’ of Norwich, wretched tenements housing the poorest of the poor in the city. The children also play a central role in helping Foxe solve this murder.

For the first time, and complicating Foxe’s investigative work, the women in his life are creating problems. He has enjoyed the occasional company of various women, usually actresses or denizens of high-priced brothels, but he has now tied himself to a socially acceptable lady. How can he manage her increasing demands, especially when two former ‘close friends’ are returning to Norwich?

In the process of Foxe’s investigation, we are introduced to more of the colorful characters that abound in this series: the occupants of St. Stephen’s hospital, the Bishop himself, and Oliver Lakenhurst, secretary to the Bishop and quite enamored with his perceived importance. In addition, we learn a great deal about the church, specifically its considerable library and the odd beliefs of the murdered warden.  The means and the opportunity for the murder were clear but Ashmole has difficulty figuring out the why.

As usual, the author creates the world of Georgian Norwich with wonderful detail and an eye to the political and social lives of its inhabitants. I was particularly charmed by the street children, whose lives are a bleak reflection of the time. The atmosphere of this mystery is inspired, the city itself a character.

The twists and turns in Foxe’s investigation of the two murders kept me guessing, and since I tend to figure things out before the denouement of a mystery, Foxe and the Moon-Shadowed Murders was frustratingly good.

The author is a superb writer, and I mean it as a compliment that his mysteries develop at a leisurely pace, as life was in those times. If the reader is wanting something speedy, they wouldn’t have enjoyed living then.

I highly recommend Foxe and the Moon-Shadowed Murders and all the other mysteries by this writer.

About the author:

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and took his degree at Cambridge. After a working life largely spent teaching and coaching managers and leaders in Britain, Europe and the USA, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property and started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels and another of his loves was history, so it seemed natural to put the two together and try his hand at producing a historical mystery. To date, he has focused on two series of murder-mystery books, both set in Norfolk between 1760 and around 1800; a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with France and Napoleon.

Norfolk is not only an inherently interesting county, it happens to be where the author lives, which makes the necessary research far easier. The Georgian period seemed natural choice for him as well, since he lives in a small Georgian town, close by several other towns that still bear the imprint of the eighteenth century on many of their streets and grander buildings. It also had the attraction of being a period he had never studied intensively, and so far he has not regretted his choice. The period has far exceeded his expectations in richness of incidents, rapidity of change and plentiful opportunities for anyone with a macabre interest in writing about crimes of every kind. He cannot see himself running out of plot material any time soon!

You can also find William Savage

On Twitter: @penandpension

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009908836774

Foxe and the Moon-Shadowed Murders can be found on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08HLZ2CBV/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Greeting from Snowy Utah

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I will be off my blog for the next two weeks – Christmas vacation! We are in Utah, where it’s been snowing off and on, something we hardly ever see in North Carolina.

We came to Utah to visit my son, his wife, and the newest addition to our family, a granddaughter. Welcome to the world, Alexandra Rhea!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are outrageous Christmas light displays and we’ve enjoyed touring the neighborhoods at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From our family to yours, Happy Christmas. May all your wishes for the season come true!

What Did the Pilgrims Wear?

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Although the Pilgrims didn’t celebrate Christmas, since they eschewed all holidays except for those decreed by God (Sunday), I thought I would continue with some of my research on how they lived.

The Pilgrims’ (Separatists’) clothing was made of two types of cloth – wool and linen, which they wore year-round. They did not wear black or gray clothing, but clothes of many colors, according to probate records where the color of various clothing items was mentioned. These colors included violet, blue, and green. The color red was also listed; however, the reds that were used in the early 17th century were more of a brick red or a madder red. What was considered black in the early 17th century was very dark greys, greens, and blues and natural black sheep’s wool was also available.

A deep, rich black was considered the opposite of demonstrating piety in the early 17th century. Thus, a true black would not have been worn by Separatists.

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If you were a male colonist or a boy old enough to be ‘breeched’, what would you wear? Male children old enough to be ‘breeched’ would wear the same clothing as their fathers:

Felt hat

Linen shirt under

A wool jacket or doublet

Woolen breeches

Wool stockings

Latchet shoes

If you were a Separatist woman or a girl older than five, what would you wear? The same as an adult woman:

Coif on the head

Smock or shift under everything – you would wear this to bed at night so no need to change

Stays – called bodies, designed to give the woman a svelte figure but very uncomfortable

Petticoats

Pockets stitched to a band and knotted around the waist under the skirt

Skirt, also called a petticoat

Apron

Waistcoat

Neckerchief

Knitted woolen stockings

Felt or straw hat

Latchet shoes

I have an authentic costume made by the wardrobe mistress of the Raleigh Little Theater. Even without the stays and petticoats, I sweat profusely in the wool and linen.

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The latchet shoe is made of sturdy leather.  Closed latchet shoes were more practical in bad weather. It is thought the open latchet shoes were made to show off rich stockings. These shoes were worn by both men and women. There were holes in the latchet (fastening strap) and in the tongue for laces of leather, cord or ribbon.

Latchet shoes were not fitted for left or right feet but were made ‘straights’ or lasts. Wearers would rotate their shoes from left foot to right to even out the wear.

Work shoes tended to have the “flesh” side of the leather turned out since they didn’t need to be waxed or polished.

I have a pair of latchet shoes. They are very sturdy but hard on the feet, at least until I break them in!

Book Review: Fae or Foe? The Cracklock Saga Book 1 by C A Deegan (@CracklockSaga) #RBRT #YA #magical adventure

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Although this book is listed for YA, I have found many such books a great ride, so even though I am not into magical ‘stuff,’ I decided to give this a read. I was not disappointed in my choice. This book is indeed magical – a breathtaking adventure of such imagination that I read myself right into the second book in the series.

Jack Crackley is a normal young teenager, who has a lot on his plate – two jobs to help support himself and his mum, school, lumbering twins at his school who think he and his classmates are good punching bags, and a strange disease affecting young children everywhere. One day they are fine, the next they are comatose and resemble very old people.

The adventure begins when Jack is asked to help move a table by a seemingly innocuous elderly gentlemen who lives in a huge old house on his paper route. What Jack finds in the house changes his life forever: he discovers he can see gnomes and other small creatures he can’t identify – a hidden world he never knew about – and most of them mean him harm. Jack escaped with no idea who he really is, but he has fae (fairies, brownies, and other little folk) all around him to help him find out.

Since he was a baby, Jack and his mother have been living under a magic spell (a glamour) designed to shield him from the clutches of the evil side of his family, the Cracklocks (he is actually Jack Cracklock). But his glamour begins to fail, just as his Aunt Agatha and cousin Anastasia and her devil of a son discover where Jack is living and plot to capture him for what end is not clear—but it is evil and designed to end the world of the fae.

His human reality and the magical world of the fae collide and he discovers that monsters are not only make believe.

The book is full of richly drawn characters, and there is humor and whimsy on practically every page. New imaginative, magical devices appear with regularity, and there is steady tension, punctuated by breathless stretches. Adventure at its highest in a world previously unimagined.

Treat yourself. Read this.

Five stars.

About the author (Amazon)

C A Deegan lives in the East Midlands, right in the center of the UK, and when he’s not writing or working, he’s with the family or walking the dog in the local woodlands with half an eye out for those ever-elusive Fae. The “Cracklock Saga” series of books came about from reading some pretty awful fairy books to his children over the years. But as he ground his way through these with gritted teeth, he always wondered what would happen if someone didn’t like fairies, what they would do about it, and could anybody stop them? This idea grew, and the Cracklocks were born.

You can find the author at

At his book site: http://www.thecracklocksaga.com

On twitter: @CracklockSaga

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheCracklockSaga

Fae or Foe is on Amazon:

 

 

 

The Real First Thanksgiving

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With my recent posts, I’ve tried to create an accurate historical lead-up to the first Thanksgiving. This is a piece I posted in 2014 and again in 2017. It seems appropriate for tomorrow!

Much has been written about the first Thanksgiving which took place at Plimoth Colony. Here is some information that is probably closer to the truth.

First Thanksgiving I                 The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899)

The voyage from Plymouth, England, had taken 65 days. Once the decision to settle on the shores of the harbor of what is now Plymouth, MA, the Pilgrims faced a daunting future:they had no houses, no stored goods, no knowledge of the country they faced, nor any knowledge of its inhabitants besides wild stories of cannibals. And the season was winter, harsh and cruel. A common house that had been built to house some of the Pilgrims burned on January 14, 1621, and those who had lived there had to return to the Mayflower for shelter.

Pilgrims going to church                  Pilgrims going to church (1867) by George Henry Boughton, New York Public Library

Sickness swept through both the colonists and the crew of the Mayflower. It is knot know what this sickness was, although it is thought it was pneumonia and scurvy. At one point, only seven of the entire population were well enough to care for the remaining 150, fetching wood for fires, making food, bathing and dressing the sick. When the sickness was over, only 12 of 26 men with families, 4 of the 12 single men and boys, and all but five of the women survived.

Despite their reduced numbers, they soon set about laying out First Street (Leyden Street) and setting the foundations for a fort at the top of the street. The colonist noticed Native Americans near their settlement in mid-February, and the two groups final met on Friday, March 16th.
Squanto and MassasoitThis is the famous encounter that involved Samoset, an Abenaki Sagamore from what is now Maine; he entered the developing village and said “Welcome, Englishmen.” Samoset had learned English from the English fishermen who crossed the North Atlantic each year to fish for cod, some of whom remained on small islands off the coast of Maine. He told the Pilgrims of a great plague which had killed the Patuxet people who had previously lived on that spot: indeed, the Pilgrims had found cleared farmland when they disembarked.

The local Native Americans, the Wampanoag tribal confederation, were very distrustful of the English because some had been kidnapped and sold into slavery by Thomas Hunt, an English captain who had visited the area a few years before.

Samoset returned with another Native American, Squanto, on March 22nd; Squanto was one of the men taken by Hunt, had been sold as a slave in Spain, escaped to London and returned to American as a guide. He became the colony’s interpreter and worked on their behalf in their interactions with the Wampanoags. As a result, the regional sachem of the Wampanoags, Massasoit, visited the Pilgrims. There was an exchange of gifts, and a treaty was signed that lasted for over 50 years. Massasoit’s purpose in aligning with the Pilgrims was to provide protection for his tribe, which had been decimated by disease, from surrounding tribes.

It was his suggestion that the fields south of the brook be turned by hand and crops of wheat, barley, Indian corn and peas were planted in early April. Work continued on the houses, and the Mayflower finally left the colony to return to England on April 5th.

Learning to plant cornThe first Thanksgiving was not really a thanksgiving but instead a traditional English harvest celebration to which the colonists invited Massasoit and members of the Wampanoag. It is generally thought to have occurred in November of 1621, but might have been at the end of the summer.

First Thanksgiving II                                 The First Thanksgiving, Jenny Augusta Brownscombe 1914

I have eaten a traditional Pilgrim meal, and I can vouch for the fact that the food was very tasty and filling. There are no records of exact fare of this harvest meal, but Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow noted that the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for what was to be a three-day event. Wild turkeys were plentiful in the area and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely that ducks, geese and swans, which frequently graced Pilgrim tables, were also on the menu. Both the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims occasionally stuffed birds and fish, typically using herbs, onions or nuts to add extra flavor. Deer were also killed and roasted venison would have been on the menu.

Turkey for ThanksgivingStrangely, in a land where the shoreline and coastal rivers were teeming with salmon, cod, flounder, shad, haddock, and sea bass, the Pilgrims were not huge fish-eaters. From Edward Winslow, we also know the Pilgrims ate lobster, which were in such abundance they could be collected by the bushels from tidal pools. But familiarity soon bred contempt, and the Pilgrims came to regard them as food for the poor. They also collected and ate eels, mussels and clams but later, with the arrival of livestock, fed the mussels and clams to their pigs.

First Thanksgiving IV                                   A Re-enactment of the First Thanksgiving at Plimoth=Patuxet

The Pilgrims had brought no livestock with them. The first cattle — three cows and a bull — did not arrive in Massachusetts until 1623 so in 1621 they were without butter, cheese, milk, and cream.

There is no indication that cranberries were served at the feast, but they did occur in Wampanoag dished, adding tartness. Remember that it is unlikely there was any sugar in the Plimoth Colony, although honey might have been available. However, there were plentiful wild gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Forget baked or mashed potatoes. Potatoes, sweet or white, would have been unknown at the time, but the Wamanoag ate a variety of other root vegetables: Jerusalem artichokes, groundnuts, wild onions, Indian turnip and water lily.

What about pumpkin? Was it on the menu? Pumpkins and squash were native to New England, and while the American varieties were new to the Pilgrims, they were hardly exotic. However, the fledgling colony didn’t have the butter and wheat flour for making piecrust.

What they did have is corn, a colorful, hard corn that the Pilgrims referred to as Indian corn. It was a staple for the Wampanoag and quickly become a fixture in Pilgrim cooking pots. “Our Indian corn,” wrote Edward Winslow,” even the coarsest, maketh as pleasant a meat as rice.” In other words, the Pilgrim quickly learned to adapt traditional English dishes of porridge, pancakes and bread to flour made with the native corn.

Indian CornThe Pilgrims ate with spoons and knives but forks were unknown, so they also used their fingers a lot.

Of course no one knows exactly what it was like to be living in the Plimoth Colony in 1621, but I am lucky to have come as close as possible to the history and have let my imagination do the rest in my book, The Last Pilgrim..

May everyone, no matter their food preference, have a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving, and be mindful of all the blessings bestowed on us as Americans — blessings for which the Pilgrims gave so much and to which the Wampanoags contributed so much, ensuring their survival.

Seasons of Starvation and Plenty

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Starvation continued beyond the first winter.  After the first year, the late spring through early fall was a time of plenty. Winters remained times of starvation, however, because ships containing new colonists continued to arrive, sent by the Merchant Adventurers in London – the Fortune (1621), and the Anne and the Little James (1623). These people arrived without any food supplies, clothes, or wherewithal for their life in the colony. They were distributed to live in the existing homes and during the winters, food had to be rationed so everyone could eat.

A conjectural image of Bradford, produced as a postcard in 1904 by A.S. Burbank of Plymouth

Bradford wrote of these newcomers there were

“good members to the body”, some being the wives and children of men there already, some since the Fortune came over in 1621. But Bradford also related about those unfit for such a hardship settlement: “And some were so bad, as they were faine to be at charge to send them home again next year.”

So the names of some of the people arriving on these ships disappeared from the colony’s rolls after 1623.

Members of the Plymouth Colony began trading with fishermen and Native tribes in Maine within a few years of their arrival in 1620. In 1622 they dispatched a small expedition by boat to Damariscove Island, where they obtained supplies and food which carried them through a difficult summer until their crops could be harvested. They also had to bargain at various Native American villages for corn.

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When starvation was not a problem, the colonists’ diet was a healthy one, helped by knowledge from the Pokanokets (Wampanaugs) who lived around them.

Beans, squash, pumpkin

Sunchokes – a tubular-shaped, thin-skinned root vegetable of the sunflower plant family that’s in season from late fall through early spring. Also called a Jerusalem artichokes.

Corn bread and corn porridge

Wild greens (watercress)

Fowl (duck, swan, goose, turkey)

Mishoons and hunting. Credit: Plimoth-Patuxet (a mishhoon the Wampanoag word for boat, using fire as a tool to hollow out a tree.)

Venison

Fish – The Separatists were not big fish eaters. Being farmers, they were meat and bread eaters.

Lobsters, clams and eels. The Separatists loved eels but soon came to regard lobster as food for the poor because of their abundance and the fact they ate a lot of them early on.

Nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, beechnuts) – some of the first food they harvest when they came ashore in Cape Cod Bay.

Wild berries: Cranberries and currants – wild currants are closely related to gooseberries. Currants come in red, black, and gold colors when ripe. North America is host to more than 80 varieties

Once gardens were established: many different kinds of herbs, onions, garlic, and vegetables like parsley, lettuce, spinach, carrots and turnips.  Also after a few years, they grew cowcumbers (cucumbers).

Water and also beer made from corn

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Cooking was done in the fireplace alcove our outside. Baking was done outside in communal ovens. Eventually, they built real fireplaces with ovens in the back and later to the side. How did they know the temperature to cook at? How did they know when their baking was done?

The Separatists initially tried but failed to grow rye, barley and wheat. In the beginning, barley crops often failed, and the cost of importation was prohibitive. Hops were first introduced into this country from Europe by the Massachusetts Company in 1629.

Food plays an important part in my book, The Last Pilgrim.

The Pilgrims Were Not the Same as Puritans

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      Pilgrims Going to Church, oil on canvas, 1867, by George Henry Boughton

This is a common misconception, mixing the two quite different approaches to the Protestant religion.

The Pilgrims were actually called Separatists. Separatists believed that the only way to live according to Biblical precepts was to leave the Church of England to worship in their own way.

Separatists rejected idolatry, trappings, and all sacraments (except for baptism), along with all holidays, including Christmas.  Thus confession, penance, confirmation, ordination, marriage, and last rites did not exist in their religion.  Separatists viewed them as inventions of the Roman Church, had no scriptural basis, and were therefore superstitions. They had no building designated as a church. They could meet anywhere and the place would simply be called a meeting house.

Separatists attempted to keep their religion apart from their government, as written in the Mayflower Compact. You could be a citizen in the Plimoth Colony but not be a Separatist (you did have to pay taxes!) This is why people who practiced other forms of religion, such as Quakers, were generally tolerated.

Puritans wanted to reform the Church of England from within and kept many of the practices, including the sacraments. Idolatry – paintings, statues, etc. – could be seen in the churches they built.

The Puritans’ religion and their government (of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) were intertwined. Other forms of religion were NOT tolerated, and their practitioners were persecuted.

Both Puritans and Separatists shared a form of worship and self-organization called the congregational way: no prayer book other than the Bible, no formal creeds or belief statements, and the head of the church was Jesus Christ.

And for both Puritans and Separatists, their members (only men) made decisions regarding their religion, such as the selection of their leaders, democratically.

Thus in The Last Pilgrim, there are no formal marriage ceremonies, just gatherings to celebrate after these unions were noted in the colony’s records.  There is some interesting tidbits about baptism: one of the most heated discussions at that time was whether baptism should be done by immersing the baby in water or just sprinkling water on the head!

I couldn’t get into this distinction in-depth in the book, so this was part of my background rsearch.