from the diaries of guest poster Dawn Woo
It’s been 5 months since we left Jamie and Claire standing on the porch of the big house on Fraser’s Ridge waiting on “the storm” to approach, both figuratively and literally. To add to our “40 years in the desert”, we are experiencing a pandemic that none of us thought would last this long. School was put on hold and it affected both part-time jobs I have: coaching high school tennis and working for a historical company that does hands-on 18th century field days for elementary schools. I was left with a good bit of time on my hands. You know what they say about busy hands: “Busy hands are happy hands.” I thought I would share with my Outlander North Carolina family some of the entries from my Droughtlander Diary. I hope your days have been as full as mine and you have come closer to your inner-Claire (or Jamie, of course).
July 20, 2020
I have my patio addition!
Jamie and Claire…..”Jamie stood in front of the new hearth, stretched out a hand to me, and drew me to stand by the hearthstone beside him.” (Drums of Autumn, chapter 19)
One of the advantages to having 3 sons…two of which are in engineering…is that they can “engineer” things to great detail. I wanted a rock and slate patio to tie my existing patio to my deck and all three boys built it. My oldest son, Ben, helped me to design the patio and also served as supervisor to the crew. I served as design consultant. It was fun watching all three trench and level, build a stone border and lay pieces of big slate.
August 3, 2020
We decided to take a little trip to the mountains.
Jamie to Claire….”’How shall I tell ye what it is to feel the need of a place?’ he said softly. ‘The need of snow beneath my shoon. The breath of the mountains breathing their own breath in my nostrils as God gave to Adam…..’” (Drums of Autumn, chapter 19)
We decided we needed to see the mountains for a few days so we headed to Northeast Tennessee, the West Highland Rim, with two of the four dogs in tow. On the way, we stopped in Valdese and met fellow ONC admin, Dawn Mathews and husband Steve, for lunch at JD’s Smokehouse. The food was just as I remembered from our Friday night BBQ dinner at Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming and the company was even better.
Our rental home rested on the edge of the Wolf River with a great view of the river and a huge canyon wall from the back deck. We watched all types of wildlife throughout those few days. Our favorite was the family of mink that moved back and forth along the canyon wall at the river’s edge every morning.
August 15, 2020
I took time to sit and read a book.
Claire……”The breeze rose with the cooling of the day, and the fluttering leaves of the trees made the multiple shadows dance in the grass. I could easily imagine fairies on the hill, dancing with those shadows, threading through the slender trunks to blend into the depths of the wood.” (Outlander, chapter 16)
There are a certain species of mystical creatures that have always captured my attention in stories and those would be vampires. I had originally read all Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series and was excited to learn that she had finally finished the book that was leaked, Midnight Sun. It is basically Twilight from Edward’s point of view. (I’ve always been Team Edward). It was an interesting book and I loved how Meyers got into Edward’s vampire head. There were a couple of spots, though, where I likened Edward’s constant brooding to William’s endless wandering in the Great Dismal – lol.
August 30, 2020
I have cooked and eaten and cooked and eaten.
Claire and Jamie…..” I poked him rudely in the ribs. ‘You’re much too fit. Most men in their forties have begun to go soft round the middle, And you haven’t a spare ounce on you.’ ‘That’s mostly because I havena got anyone to cook for me,’ he said ruefully. ‘If you ate in taverns all the time, ye wouldna be fat, either. Luckily, it looks as though ye eat regularly.’ He patted my bottom familiarly and then ducked, laughing, as I slapped at his hand.” (Voyager, chapter 25)
I had a full house this summer. All of my children were home, plus girlfriends, plus two dogs in addition to our two. Food is a central thought in the minds of 17-24 year olds, especially home cooked food and desserts. It was an absolute joy having all of those feet under our table from May to August, although I am wearing that “joy” around my middle in the form of a few extra pounds. So like Claire, we ate regularly and well.
September 1, 2020
There’s a reason it’s called “binge-watching.” You JUST. CANT. STOP!
Jamie meets George Washington…..”The man was as tall as Jamie himself, and Jamie found himself looking straight into sharp, gray-blue eyes that took his measure in the instant it took to shake hands. ‘George Washington,’ the man said. ‘Your servant, sir.’ ‘James Fraser,’ Jamie said, feeling mildly stunned. ‘Your….most obedient. Sir.’ (Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, chapter 10)
I decided to finally watch two series that originally aired on AMC, “Turn“ and “Hell on Wheels”. I regretted not watching them years ago. “Turn” scratched that 18th century itch with George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the spy tactics used in the Revolutionary War. On the other hand, Cullen Bohannon in “Hell on Wheels” stepped up to the plate as pinch hitter for the king of men, Jamie Fraser, for a few weeks….although we all know that Jamie is a home run ALL day, EVERY day! The series was set post-Civil War against the backdrop of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. It, too, featured several historical figures.
September 15, 2020
I planted my garden in spring and fall.
Mrs. Fitz to Claire….”’Keep back a few heads,’ she advised me. ‘Divide ‘em and plant the bulbs single, one here and one there, all round the garden. Garlic keeps the wee bugs awa’ from the other plants. Onion and yarrow will do the same. And pinch the dead marigold heads, but keep them, they’re useful.'” (Outlander, chapter 6)
I planted my garden early and had to cover it with sheets several times to protect it from the cold. I put down tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños, cabbage, purple hull peas, and the candy roasted squash seeds that Mary Helen Ellis gave us at Homecoming 2019. I also have a small established herb garden with rosemary, sage, cilantro, peppermint, and oregano. I was able to dry a lot of these for use this winter.
My gardening did not stop with the end of summer. I planted a fall/winter garden for the first time. I have broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce. I’m seriously considering trying my hand at making sauerkraut when the fall cabbage crop comes in.
October 5, 2020
I hope my fellow ONC clan members have been able to channel their inner Claire or their inner Jamie. I’ve been as happy as the “white sow under the big house” sewing some 18th century garments, learning to tape weave, getting my hands dirty in the garden, and having “my clan” all around me on “my ridge” these past months.
I hope my fellow clan members’ Droughtlander has been happily busy and fruitful. I hope they’ve found pleasure in the everyday mundane that we sometimes take for granted. As Jamie said to Claire, “The world and each day in it is a gift, mo chridhe-no matter what tomorrow may be.” (The Fiery Cross, chapter 58)