This is a book from my childhood. I was a weird little history obsessed child and I LOVED this book.
This story is a year in the life of... wait for it... the Ox-Cart Man!
And it is illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
Barbara Cooney is my hero.
Her illustrations always seem exactly right. That folk art vibe!
In October, the cart is loaded up with all the surplus of the family.
The Ox-Cart man takes his cart to market, which involves walking for ten days.
I was always impressed that he didn't ride in the cart those ten days. Clearly he was a conscientious farmer who didn't want to overburden his ox.
At Portsmouth Market, he sells everything he brought.
Including his ox and the cart.
There is something so terribly neat and tidy about this scheme. I am still just as impressed as my nine-year-old self.
With the money he earns, he goes to the general store to get things they can't make at home.
And then the ten day walk home.
I bet that cozy little house looked ever so much more appealing after a month of walking, selling, buying, and walking.
At home, our industrious family starts right in--using their new purchases to make things to sell for next year.
As I sit here in a welter of to-do lists that always seem to be put of until tomorrow, I really, really wish I had even half of their got-it-togetherness.
I sometimes wonder if I would have been industrious back in the day, or would I have been one of those day dreaming types that gets nothing done except acquire the disapproval of all the village ladies. But then I stop wondering because, frankly, I am pretty sure everyone would disapprove of me.
A new cart, new yoke, and more shingles are started in the barn, while the new calf grows into a nice ox.
Meanwhile, spinning and embroidery takes place inside.
Oh these clearly defined gender roles.
I adore sugaring pictures.
And after a year of industry, the Ox-Cart man and his family is ready to send their surplus to the market again.
So neat. So tidy. So...never-ending.
Even if they wouldn't approve of me, I am glad I am a modern woman who has the leisure to spend a few hours Cyber Monday/Tuesday shopping if she feels like it.
Because lets face it, those 50% off deals aren't going to buy themselves. Probably Mrs. Ox-Cart would heartily approve of my thrifty nature.