women of 1620

  Mayflower1 rigging: exquisite, black & tarred, massive


Mayflower2one way to get to shore...   


Mayflower7 crow's nest




Mayflower8a calendar? a compass? a game?  if you know, please share! 


 Mayflower3 these woolen layers would put any waldorf teacher to shame. lined wool knickers over salmon jersey thigh-highs.  knit salmon knee highs with grey tie + poppy socks and handmade leather mary-janes to boot.  on a colonial man, to boot (again).  




Mayflower4   Mayflower16




I never knew the women of the Mayflower stayed on board, to care for the ill & dying while the men built their shelters.  That they had lost half of their loved ones on the way over.  I didn't realize how small the ship was - way too small for over 100 people, let alone men, women & children all buzzed or drunk because they had to drink beer for hydration.  I didn't know the ship & crew had planned to return home, but it was too cold for the colonists to survive, so they remained as home base.  I'm seeing for the first time that the Pilgrims were people suffering from shock.


I'm reminded of the triumph it is that we continue to build our lives when we each have felt the texture of trauma. That we continue to accept, long for & melt into our loved ones when we have all experienced great loss.  Or if we haven't yet, we've heard the crack in our mother's voice or seen the vacuous glance of our grandfather as he got up from his chair.  They've been there.  And yet we continue to be hopeful & hope-filled.  And life comes through.


I'm also reminded of the reality of sequencing.  History has been handed to me in a linear, masculine sequence.  Men built things, & the landmarks of their lives continued to be built upon by the decades of those that followed them.  We don't know what we build here, ultimately.  We just build, take in the contributions of others & hopefully give everything we possibly can.  


As women, our lives move in a spiral sequence.  Each phase of our lives is a rounded movement, touching on what's happened, what's coming & what's always been there.  Or maybe it looks like sequencing work or children or marriage while spinning the plates of everything else we are accountable for, everything we are up to & everything life throws in.  And here now I am spinning memories for my children & I find signs of these women - baskets, bedding, clothing, food - & I feel like I can hear crying, see them smiling.  Feel their bravery.  Some kind of weird hug across time & space.  (Or maybe I'm just picturing Laura Linney in John Adams?)


I wonder how the women of the Mayflower felt about the Indigenous women they found here, with their established home lives, surrounded by their children, men & sisters, capable & clear on their roles in their communities.  Did they wish to learn from them, join them, know them & love them as women innately do?  Did they feel thwarted in those longings by their community culture, their own beliefs, their grief or the locals themselves?  Or were some meaningful relationships established - if only meaningful to themselves?  What futures might have been possible if those heart strings had been able to become the foundational threads of this country?  If only I had been handed that history.  The dance of women.