Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was een Amerikaanse journaliste en sociaal activiste. Haar dagboeken zijn hier te lezen.
January 17, '48
West Virginia 5 degrees
When you are in the country the temperature is important. To write I lie in bed with a hot water bottle at my feet, a loose old coat covering me. A bathrobe would not be enough. The hot water bottle is a pint size whiskey bottle.
This is a typical country bedroom, one window facing north, the other west. There is a roomy closet, a door into the front hall, flanking which there are two other bedrooms, and another door to a northeast room, also two windows that get the morning sun. There is a narrow flight of stairs leading down to the summer kitchen. There are eight rooms in the house, a porch front, side and back, a good tin roof. On this farm there is a shed, pigpen, chicken house, smoke house, an old cannery from which the machinery has been removed, and which is used now to house goats: the four does, one buck and two kids. There is a well and pump in the cannery, and a pump on the back porch of the house. Fifty-five acres of hilly woodland, and twenty acres of fields go with this farm for which the owners are asking two thousand, five hundred dollars. We are two miles from the highway, three miles from a store and twelve miles from town and church.
This is a good house, a good farm in spite of the fields being far from the house beyond the woods. It is renting now for ten dollars a month.
Down the dirt road across a brook about twenty five feet wide and a foot deep there is another farm for sale, seventy acres, for twelve hundred dollars. Good barn and chicken coop, granary, pigpen, garage and smoke house, but the seven room, low ceilinged house is in very bad repair and the porch on the side is caving in. Also there is a spring in the cellar and some rainy seasons there is a foot of water under the house. Whether this can be drained and the house repaired in this era of expensive materials and scarcity of craftsmen is a question.
There are other good farms in the neighborhood for three thousand and thirtv-five hundred and everywhere the soil is good, the bottom lands fertile, the hills covered with pine and oak (no one burns coal), there is hunting and fishing.
Here on a neighboring farm, priced at six thousand, a farmer raised and educated three boys and a girl. But he operated the cannery, as well as farmed. Others farm summers and work winters, leaving early and arriving home late, leaving their wives to tend to the children and the animals, wood and water. It is a lonely life for a woman with many small children. It is a life of solitude in city and village anyway, since a young mother cannot get out, but in town neighbors and friends can at least drop in.
Spring, summer and fall are so beautiful in the country but the winters are hard. Life then is in two rooms and the bedrooms are grim. The children may get out but they soon run in with streaming eyes complaining of hands and feet and already our two here have chilblains.
Yesterday the snow fell all day and the children ran out getting pans of it to eat. David says it is called the poor man's manure as it is filled with chemicals that enrich the soil. It tastes sooty just as it does in the city. The wheat, barley and rye in the bottom lands, green and frozen, was soon blanketed. The hills, ridges and paths were outlined and all was black and white, blue and grey with a hint of lavender behind the trees, and the gorgeous fresh green of the pines. Today with the sun out, gold and blue is added to the bright, cold picture. We are indeed in the dead of winter, in the depths of winter.
Tamar's baby is due in ten days now, and we are praying the pains will not come at night nor in such cold when it will be hard to start our borrowed car. The path from the house to the road is icy and hard to get down. We could not get to Mass this Sunday morning because of that path, so perilously steep and treacherous.
Our days are spent in cooking, dishwashing, clothes washing, drawing water, keeping two fires going, feeding babies, consoling babies, picking up after babies. The bending and lifting alone should take the place of all exercise. But tomorrow we are going to pretend our long porch is the deck of a ship and we are going to take a brisk walk up and down and around, just to get out of the house and enlarge our vision a bit. It always fascinated me, how the Bronte sisters paced the floor of their living room in front of the fire. It must have been a very large room. My friend Tina has a habit of pacing the floor and in small quarters it can be nerve-wracking for nonpacers.
On my way down here I bought some supplies and I shall list the prices. Whole wheat flour from a mill, nine cents a pound; buckwheat ten cents. And at a farm woman's store, home made candy seventy cents a pound, sorghum, seventy-five cents a quart, butter ninety-five cents, beef for a stew fifty cents a pound (there was much fat). Home made aprons were eighty-five cents and a dollar. Patchwork quilts were twenty-eight dollars.
Thinking of cash crops to sell by mail perhaps, there is candy, aprons, Tamar's homespun, home woven materials etc. It would supplement the tiny income from D's mail order book business (he specializes in Distributist authors so his field is limited).
How to live--that is the question. Daily expenses, how to meet them? The goats are not giving milk now. Skim milk is ten cents a quart (the farm wife is always contributing some sauerkraut, a piece of pork, etc.), canned milk is six-twenty a case.