Essays On Puritans

When a landowner died in colonial New England, the town appointed a committee of neighbors to survey and value the possessions of the dead, so that the estate could be taxed.These committees were scrupulously exhaustive, creating detailed room-by-room accounts of the items in the house.

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The uppermost couple of inches of ground have thawed, but the underlying frost stretches to a depth of 18 inches or more. And then you have days marked by dark brown mud, the kind of mud that ensnares vehicles up to their axles and serves as the beginning of stories swapped at the cash register of our Agway in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

When mud-season mud dries, it leaves a chalky, caked residue on the palms of your hand and crusty clods on the soles and sides of your boots.

That’s mud time, our fifth season, which is just coming to its end.

The lingering odor of poisoned rodents decaying under the mudroom, their open-air graves marked by middens of broken medicine bottles, pottery shards, and withered corncobs accumulated over the last century.

It first appeared in the mid-1950s, timed with the arc of tract house development and the appearance of less formal entryways at the sides and backs of houses.

The suburbanites who bought these houses liked tidiness and, as more people after World War II drove automobiles, there was a desire for a transitional space between the garage and the house proper.

), a three-car garage, and above all a , because their three sons play hockey and have the heroic amounts of gear that kids lug around with them from dawn-streaked rink to rink.

The couple’s ultimate choice features a mudroom I wouldn’t mind actually living in: a gleaming white space featuring a built-in hall tree with four bays for storage, state-of-the-art front-loading laundry equipment, and a slate-tiled floor with subsurface heating. They’re literally liminal spaces, areas not meant for actually living, but rather to shed the accouterments of snow, rain, and mud.

In New England we have mudrooms because nature provides us with an entire season dedicated to mud.

The weeks between the last real snow and the first 50-degree days are interminable.


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