May 10, 2017

In the late 1940’s, about the time when many American homes were being outfitted with the newest modern conveniences, Tasha Tudor moved to a run-down (one could say, dilapidated) 1789 New Hampshire farmhouse with no electricity, no running water, and no heat besides a few wood stoves. She was also a mother of two small children. While to some, this combination of circumstances might sound harrowing, for Tasha it was a dream realized.

The New Hampshire Homestead

She did have her work cut out for her, however! Dedicated as she was to living her life as though she were in a more antiquated time, Tasha spent many hours of everyday hand-making clothing for her family, cooking nourishing traditional foods, tending to her garden, and performing farm chores. She was also determined to transform the ancient farmhouse into a vibrant home for herself and her family so much time was spent cleaning, decorating, and restoring the dwelling to it’s former glory. In the next few years, Tasha went on to have two more children and illustrate several books!

Illustration from Springs of Joy

Though Tasha’s days were full of hard work, she also believed in the importance of play. As a young mother, Tasha became a master of multitasking--a skill all mothers must cultivate! Often the children’s games of dress-up would turn into impromptu life-drawing sessions. An afternoon picnic by the river would inspire a new watercolor painting. While waiting for bread to rise, Tasha would use the carefully managed time to lay down a few sketches for her next book. In her words,” When you’re stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.” When her children were old enough, Tasha taught them important domestic duties so they could help around the house, for, as the saying goes, many hands makes light work!

Tasha's children carving "pumpkin moonshines" for Halloween. Photograph from Drawn From New England.

Seth, her elder son, says, “ I have none but happy memories of my childhood and Tasha. She was a wonderful, loving, caring mother who worked hard to support her family, and, like many mothers, provided interesting, varied activities and experiences for her children.” Together Tasha and her children made elaborate dolls and marionettes, putting on extravagant plays for friends and neighbors. They sent beautiful miniature letters to their doll-friends by way of the Sparrow Post and read classic books such as Robin Hood, Robinson Crusoe, and Wuthering Heights aloud by the light and warmth of the fire.

Making ice cream. Illustration from Springs of Joy.

Of these early years of motherhood Tasha said, “I was tired most of my younger life, with no electricity until my youngest child was five, hauling water with a shoulder yoke, and heating irons on the woodstove. But I didn’t know anything different, so it didn’t seem like a hardship to me.”