…was born while I was away in the West, walking the dry, rocky, wildflower-dotted paths in New Mexico and Colorado. No muddy hems to be seen. It was mostly too dry, but I neglected to take any long skirts (mostly leggings and short, soft dresses)…so…no hems to be muddied. I should have been less practical, and felt more comfortable on occasion, if I had packed a long frock or two in my valise…
Home now, my closet of dresses gets more use than my drawer of leggings. And as the early-autumn, cricket-songed days are here, boots join the dresses…sometimes a wrap or shawl…and I feel most myself again.
I think often of our sisterhood now, a sisterhood that can trace its lineage down through the ages. But precious now, as hems and all that may cling to them are not so common as they were. Sarah put it so beautifully…
“There’s something quietly fulfilling about coming home trailing dust, brambles, tiny white wings of dandelion clocks, or with a sea-soaked hem clinging to your ankles. It reminds a woman that she is part of the furry brown body of the goddess.”
I don’t know if I have ever had a muddy hem (no stiles! no dirt paths!) but I’ve had many a prickled, and briared skirt and type this now in my dew-wet dress. I avoided the stick-seeds that fill our fields at this time of year when I pedaled near their edges this morning. But even as I pulled my skirt aside, I remembered the passages in Prodigal Summer (which I recently read and loved-thank you dear Kyce), when they spoke with sighing acceptance and ordinariness about the cockle-burrs they would have to spend time plucking from their clothing after walks in certain places. The book was full of the conflict-in intimate, everyday ways-within people and between them as they either attempt to adapt the land to their own purposes or attune themselves and their ways to the land.
Muddy, seed-spattered hems are one form of attunement…a conversation between women and the wild…one I hope to have often in these gossamer-strung, mist-dappled, butterfly-flitted days.
“She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”
“She did indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair so untidy, so blowsy!”
“Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud, I am absolutely certain; and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.”
“Your picture may be very exact, Louisa,” said Bingley; “but this was all lost upon me. I thought Miss Elizabeth Bennet looked remarkably well, when she came into the room this morning. Her dirty petticoat quite escaped my notice.”
“You observed it, Mr. Darcy, I am sure,” said Miss Bingley, “and I am inclined to think that you would not wish to see your sister make such an exhibition.”
“To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ancles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! what could she mean by it? It seems to me to shew an abominable sort of conceited independence, a most country town indifference to decorum.”
“It shews an affection for her sister that is very pleasing,” said Bingley.
“I am afraid, Mr. Darcy,” observed Miss Bingley in a half whisper, “that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes.”
“Not at all,” he replied; “they were brightened by the exercise.”
Miss Bingley on Elizabeth Bennett
Pride and Prejudice
Are you a wild, scampering, blowsy, independent, brightened sort of woman, too?
Claire September 24, 2016 at 2:55 am
I am in spirit… I rarely wear dresses/skirts since the stroke (I love them so long, they would trip me up nowadays), but I do wear free-flowing tunics and leggings – perfect rambling clothes (think my scampering days are done 😀 ) xx
lesley September 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm
Tunics and leggings are lovely, Claire…probably much like my short dresses and leggings. The important thing is are we letting the wind play with our hair?
laura September 24, 2016 at 3:53 pm
I have been throughout the years but in the last few, have worn mostly loose yoga pants. After I saw Sarah’s post on IG about the muddy hems, I was compelled to put on my long skirts again. After I did, I felt free. It is an odd thing, I think, to feel a sense of freedom in a long skirt that drags the ground and tangles in the wind. But, I’m most always found in long skirts now and have hopes to acquire a few more that fit my waist better. I hope I can join the muddyhemsisterhood?
I hope you had a lovely trip and am glad to see you in this space again. (I love your IG feed, too.)
lesley September 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm
Of course you may join, Laura…you already have. The freedom part is interesting. I wonder if it is the “rightness” that they make us feel?
And even tho’ they don’t drag or blow, amongst my favorite skirts the the ruched ones I find used on ebay by the company XCVI. They fit on the hips with a drawstring and are comfortably snug. I can’t wear skirts that come to my waist because they set off a pain thing, so dresses and those particular skirts are what I turn to most days.