|Flood of 2010|
But my idea of Culture is to stay home and read. This afternoon, afflicted with flu-ish symptoms, I reread Charlotte Bronte's Villette, and wondered if, like Lucy Snowe, I would have worked in the 19th century as a spinster teacher in a boarding school. What a lonely life. The man she is fond of, Dr. Graham Bretton, wonders if they would been very good friends had she been a boy.
"I believe if you had been a boy, Lucy, instead of a girl--my mother's god-son instead of her god-daughter,--we should have been good friends: our opinions would have melted into each other."
So she is reduced to a friendship with M. Paul, a controlling teacher who goes through her desk, reads her letters, and constantly disparages her.
How could Graham say such a thing to Lucy? And how could she have put up with M. Paul?
I'm afraid we know. But this isn't the kind of thing one normally has a conversation about.
I have identified my whole adult life, through many readings, with Lucy. I understand Lucy's muted passion, sensitivity, apparent chilliness, and boredom with teaching. I guess in my soul I know that there's more to Lucy than to many a more vivacious heroine.
I certainly was not a plain young woman--no, that came later--but I was plainer than my male companions. So I was told by my friends, but fortunately I saw someone different in the mirror. (It is helpful if your mother tells you that you are beautiful. A lot of time passes before you are the opposite.)
Plain or pretty, I have had to spend a LOT of time riding bicycles with men. Miles and miles and miles of bicycling.
And I confess I didn't feel like bicycling yesterday. It was very windy and the light was dim. It occurs to me that I also belong to a Culture That Insists I Do Things I Don't Feel like Doing. Do you feel sick? Get out on your bicycle anyway!
Where did I pick this up?
It is the kind of culture Lucy Snowe belongs to. She doesn't acknowledge illness unless she collapses in front of a Catholic church.
I can't be sick, because it is time for the Thanksgiving Culture. I have to be well tomorrow. I have to clean the house for company. I have to clean a ladder-like stairway into the basement because someone will insist on going downstairs to do laundry or something-- who knows? I don't feel like cleaning individual steps with a sponge, but it will come to that. I tossed a bucket partly filled with water down the other day (we also have a cement floor in the basement) and it did get rid of some of the dust. Not enough.
|"The First Thanksgiving," 1621, painting by J.L.G. Ferris (1863-1930)|
Could we get our pies at Village Inn?
No. They have to be homemade, but it is all right to have a refrigerated crust. The Village Inn pies have a GOOD crust. No, our pies are the holiday tradition.
How about catering? Let's get the dinner from the Hy-Vee.
No, no. It's not as good.
Well, cooking Thanksgiving dinner isn't very hard, so okay.
If you would like some tips on how to cook Thanksgiving dinner, you might get copy of Sam Sifton's Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well, or The Betty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook, or one of those other Thanksgiving cookbooks.
In fact, I might sneak out and buy one of these and change some of my recipes without telling anybody. They don't have tastebuds, or they wouldn't want Pepperidge Farm dressing. But even if I don't get a new cookbook, the day will be the same. I'll be reading about Lucy Snowe between bastings of the turkey while the others do other Thanksgiving things (like laundry and watching something ghastly on TV).