~I came upon the idea for this posting while reading an older post.~
...updated May 2018...
...updated May 2018...
In fact, to a time I was not actually a part of...in a way...
I suppose you just have to read this post to understand what I mean.
Now, I am not trying to be snarky here, but please do not send me nasty comments telling me to "get over it," "accept what the future holds," "live for today," "you need to get out of the past," "I suppose you want slavery back," and all the other asinine bile I get when I write in this manner whether here or on my Facebook page.
And there's also no need to politicize something that isn't political.
So, I've been a bit melancholy, and when I get this way my thoughts tend to wander in many different directions, especially down the nostalgic trail.
|An autumn scene right out of 1760. Yeah, I was there...|
That would mean nostalgia is a very personal experience then, does it not? And according to the above definition, only those who actually experienced the time period firsthand actually have the right to feel an attachment to it.
However, I once read that "Nostalgia is portable," meaning it can be possible to feel a sentimental attachment to a time period one did not personally live through.
Hmmm...but that's not according to definition - - how can that be?
If nostalgia truly is portable, is it possible, then, that those of us who reenact the past, frequently visit historical living history museums, or read extensively about a time from before we were born to experience these same nostalgic emotions? I mean, it's pretty obvious that I was not around during the horse-and-carriage days, and yet I still have a sort of nostalgic feeling for those times.
|...and I was also in 1882.|
~Maybe it's because I have been witnessing daily life of the 18th and 19th centuries while visiting the historical open-air museums of Greenfield Village and Crossroads Village quite frequently - sometimes weekly - for 30-plus years, intently watching and sometimes even taking part in the everyday activities of long ago.
|Here I am taking part in the oh-so-important farming activity of plowing. Yeah...that's me holding the plow behind the horses...|
I mean, when one thinks about it, if I added up each day I spend reenacting and include the times I visit open-air museums, I am immersed in the past an awful lot, aren't I?
So, with taking everything into account, does this mean that I can actually feel a sort of Webster definition of nostalgia for times long past?
Real memories of a time before my time, though it occurred in my time.
Does that make sense?
How about my children, each of whom, since birth, have attended colonial and Civil War reenactments (before participation and after), visited v-e-r-y often the above mentioned museums and witnessed almost weekly people in period clothing performing the historical activities of horse-drawn plowing, milking cows, caring for chickens, riding in carriages, on steamboats, and on trains, picnicking near a covered bridge...
Then there are the many, many summertime weekends in the small 19th century-built American town of Lexington (Michigan), where such things as visiting a general store that has a mix of old and new items (including penny candy), an old stagecoach stop turned into a restaurant that still keeps its period appearance, catching pollywogs at the creek, bonfires at night, and extremely little TV watching, were all commonplace.
Wouldn't you say this is pretty old-timey stuff?
Just ask a typical pre-teen today how much of what I just mentioned they themselves experienced; I can practically guarantee most have not...ever (unless their your child, right? Because chances are, if you're reading this, you and I have a very similar mindset).
With all of this, can they be nostalgic for eras beyond their own time?
We have also visited a restored colonial village, Colonial Williamsburg, where virtually every building in the area was either originally built in the 18th century or an exact replication of one from that time.
|My wife and I walking down an 18th century street in Williamsburg.|
Yes, we had the same experience as one may have had 240 years ago, did we not?
One of her passions, for instance, is spinning wool into yarn using her spinning wheel.
In fact, during the summer of 2014 she spent weeks picking through and cleaning three 30-gallon garbage bags of raw wool she received from a sheep-owning friend. I mean raw wool, for it had sheep poop, hay, grass, sticks, and dirt, imbedded in it.
|As you can see, the raw sheep wool my wife was cleaning was spread out all over. Most of the dirtiest work/cleaning was done outside in the yard, but some was done inside, which definitely gave our home that barnyard-fresh smell!|
Again, just as folks did 150 years ago.
And this mill (Zeilingers) uses carding machines of the 19th century:
|Carding machines at the Carding Mill in Frankenmuth|
Patty also loves to sit on our front porch or in our back yard and spin on her spinning wheel, not only because it relaxes her, but because she loves to crochet as well, and the idea of "sheep to shawl" is very appealing to her. She has crochet mittens, scarves, shawls, sontags, hats, and just about anything else you can think of.
She really gets a kick out of having total strangers out for a walk come up to our porch to watch her do this traditional craft. One just doesn't see spinning on a spinning wheel very often in the suburbs!
Are we a match made in heaven or what?
And our kids?
Well, our oldest, though very contemporary, still embodies the spirit of the past in his life; besides reenacting, Tom plays guitar and sings in a rock band as well as sings in a couple of period vocal music groups. He raises chickens and grows his own vegetables while preferring a traditional style of planting his heirloom seeds as shown in this book he received for Christmas: Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way - 18th Century Methods for Today's Organic Gardners over the more modern methods. He also spent a few weeks in the summer of 2014 caring for another friends farm while said friend was out of town for a few weeks.
His values, morals, and political fervor goes against the modern grain as well.
|Here is Tom dressed in his Dickensian costume - it's what he wears when singing old world Christmas carols with the period vocal group Simply Dickens. It's pretty obvious that period vocal groups have a large following, especially among cheerleaders!|
My next eldest son, Robert, is to Civil War military reenacting what I am to Civil War civilian reenacting; he is constantly reading not only of the battle tactics, but of the everyday life of the soldier as well, using such resources as the infamous Hard Tack and Coffee book to help guide him.
He is an EMT and, like his older brother, his values, morals, and political fervor also goes against the grain of modern society.
I have two younger children: son #3 is preparing for college. He has Aspergers Syndrome which is in the autism family, and his interests lie in different directions, but yet still historical. For instance, he loves lighthouses, and, with Michigan being the state with the most lighthouses in the U.S., we make it a point to try and visit at least a different one every year if we can.
|Here is my third son very happily getting his photo taken near the Port Sanilac Lighthouse, which was built in 1886. He hates having his picture taken but willingly does at each light house we visit.|
My youngest child - my daughter - enjoys the life of a teen with her ipod, sleep overs, teen fashion designing, the latest in popular music, and the giddiness that a 21st century teen girl usually has. But she can also knit, crochet, spin on a spinning wheel, sew, and tell you of her 1860's life from sun up til sun down. She can also sing along with such well-known period tunes as Shady Grove, Wayfaring Stranger, Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier, and Some Folks Do.
Ha! She even had a beeswax candle dipping party with her friends - all around 16 years old - and taught them the colonial way of creating 18th century lighting.
|My sometimes unlady-like daughter can be found up a tree. I do believe she and Laura Ingalls would have been fast friends had they ever had the chance to meet!|
And each has a respect for and an understanding of the past.
The best of two very different worlds.
Oh, you bet I am proud!
So...after reading what I wrote here, and knowing that my family and I have many of the same memories that the people of the 18th and 19th centuries had, can we be nostalgic for that period in time?
Is nostalgia really portable?
To add to this thought, maybe there is also a sense of longing as well...
Longing is defined as a strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant.
"Unattainable or distant?"
Because of my reasoning in this post, experiencing a time long past has not necessarily been unattainable or distant, has it?
And maybe...just maybe...I do have a nostalgic longing for times before my own time, even if it's only through experience, because many memories would still be the same.
Maybe nostalgia really is portable.
What are your thoughts?
P.S. I realize this posting goes off the beaten path for me. Nostalgia and longing both are a yearning, though for the good times, not the bad. Please note that I do understand this.
Thoughts enter my head and, well, sometimes these thoughts form into something much bigger, such as this post - - - nothing earth shattering, mind you, just something a bit out-of-the-ordinary such as what you've just read.
If nothing else I hope I was able to take you away on a different road for a few minutes.
And I hope you enjoyed some of the older photos of my family. Looking at them also made me nostalgic!
~ ~ ~