Sunday, August 14, 2011
The comforts of an old house
In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, when the Dashwoods move from their estate to their country house, Barton Cottage, there is a definite sense that they're giving up comfort and ease and warmth in exchange for independence. The stone walls, though plastered, capture the chilling rain and winter's penetrating icy winds. You can see that realization in their faces when they view the cottage for the first time:
One of the most telling moments is when the older sisters climb into bed the first evening. The wind is blowing, there are no fires in the bedrooms, and the bed covers are sturdy but sparse. Marianne says to Elinor, "Your feet are cold!" and Elinor climbs out again with a sigh to pull on stockings.
In Sense and Sensibility, the cold rains are a symbol of emotional abandon - dramatic, romantic, a wild release - but with possible devastating consequences. The inevitable sense of cold, chilling to the bone, is palpable, even in Marianne's one bare foot when Willoughby carries her home in the rain. Cold feet again!
I can relate to this. Here in my old, cold house, I love the cosy feeling when it rains outside, but even a summer rain can chill the house. I've turned to traditional methods of keeping warm - knitted socks, shawls, night-caps, and fires in the fireplace. My friends ask for my knitted bedsocks and night caps as gifts all the time, and I've started on some for Christmas presents already.
Here is a new pattern, just finished:
Sensibility Bed Socks
So soft and warm - and comfortable!