Monday, October 26, 2009
A few days ago, I mentioned that Shug and I had been enjoying the PBS series, "Frontier House." It was so good, I thought it deserved more than just a quick mention, so here we go.
The show was filmed in 2001 and took three families to Montana to live in "Frontier Valley," a place complete with cabins and animals a la 1883. The families were not allowed to bring ANY modern comforts, including makeup, facewash, tampons, pain killers, antibiotics, toilet paper...you get the idea. Oh, and they had to live this way for 5 months! This wasn't like a camping trip where you "rough it" for a week and then get to go home and take a shower...You roughed it for a week and then you got to rough it for four months and three weeks more!
The families had to build their own cabins, learn how to care for livestock, and cook on a wood-burning stove. The gals had to wear corsets and the guys suspenders...but the corsets pretty much got tossed after the first few hours. It was interesting to see the element of competition between the families and how many families "cheated" during their stay just to get by.
The reason I loved this series so much wasn't because of it's historical accuracy or attention to detail, it was the transformation we get to see in the families...especially the kids! When questioned about what the kids had learned on this experiment, one of the little boys said that he'd "discovered imagination." How sad is that? Many of the individuals interviewed after the project were so disheartened at the excess and extravagance of 21st century life.
I really sympathized with their sadness when they had to leave the 1883. They had grown stronger as families and in their own sense of self. It was also intersting to compare the women's responses to the men's upon leaving the valley. Evey man was brought to tears when asked about their experience and if they would miss the lifestyle of an 1883 man. The women, on the other hand, were elated that they were leaving! The drudgery of "women's work" on the frontier was enough for them to yearn for modern-day life. The only exception was the two teenage girls, who refused to dress or act the "part" of an 1883 woman. They had involved themselves in "men's" work and were also brought to tears at the thought of leaving.
It made me wish for a simpler time...Yes, me, a feminist, wished for a time where the only things I needed to preoccupy myself with was caring for my animals, splitting wood, and spending time with my family...Dude, marriage has seriously messed with my brain.