While the pigs were frolicking to and fro unbeknownst to us, Isadora, Errol, and I were immersed in all things Pilgrim.
“Good Morrow,” she greeted us upon entering the room. “How now?” She was Pilgrim from head to toe, and arrived speaking the dialect of the King’s English that would have been common for our nation’s first immigrants. She taught us the customary greetings of the day and the actions of respect that accompanied them – a curt bob for lasses and a slight bow for lads, unless in the presence of the King or Queen, when those gestures necessarily deepened and were held fast until the royalty passed by. She had such a lilting, pleasant voice; we couldn’t help but be entranced. Then she introduced herself – her name was Elizabeth Hopkins. Isadora and I shrieked, barely under our breath, looking at each other wide-eyed and drew the attention of everyone in the room. “We KNOW her!” I shout-whispered to the other mom at our table.
It was a little like meeting a movie star or what I imagine some might feel when getting a glimpse of that Justin Beaver guy. We knew (of) her well – she’s the stepmother of our good friend Constance Hopkins.
Last year at this time, we were similarly immersed in all things Pilgrim as I read aloud from what must be my favorite childhood book – a fictional retelling of an actual girl who arrived with her family on the Mayflower.
I’ve probably read the book more than a dozen times since finding it by chance before leaving on a family vacation when I was perhaps 10. So vivid is that memory – picking out the book was such a splurge – and I marvel at the luck of finding it at that time. It’s out of print now, which accounts for the price tags of the few copies available on Amazon, but I’ve also found it in our public library, so check there first if you like a good Puritanical historical romance. (and who DOESN’T?!) My own copy has become precious, despite the taped-together cover and the yellowing pages. Edit: Now I can’t find it in our library system. Sob.
We took our time reading it last year, talking at great length about the greater context of the story, and it became a cornerstone of our Fall/Winter learning. We quickly became familiar with the slightly different language elements like ’tis and thee that peppered the narrative. We tried to imagine what a trencher looked like as Constance described laying the cloth and setting the table before a meal.
On Wednesday of this week, in the year-of-our-lord two thousand thirteen, Elizabeth Hopkins laid out the cloth before us at our table and placed upon it a wooden trencher, complete with salt cellar, and pewter plates. Isadora and I swooned.
The story came further to life as some of the children around us were selected to model the typical clothing of Plymouth’s youth. The rust-colored head piece above is called a Pudding Band or something to that nature, and was put on toddling children to prevent them from turning their heads to pudding as they learned to walk. We loved that bit.
As Mistress Hopkins told her story, she periodically quizzed the crowd. “Someone had a baby while aboard the Mayflower. Know thee, lads and lasses, who it was?” I had to sit on my hands to contain myself, but I whispered to Isadora, “She did! That was Oceanus!!”
“And another babe was born shortly after we landed. Do ye know what they named him?” “Peregrine White!” I whispered again to Isadora.
We were those people. The Pilgrim nerds. And we loved every single minute of it. The reverie cast by our Pilgrim immersion might have carried us all the way home too, had it not been so abruptly shattered by those damn escaped pigs.