The Cutting of Bread


tumblr_mun303qvSZ1qb597yo1_1280I love reading old diaries and today I came across this excerpt from the diary of Katherine Mansfield, a writer from early in the 20th century.

10 January. Dreamed I was back in New Zealand.

Got up to-day. It was fine. The sun shone and melted the last trace of snow from the trees. All the morning big drops fell from the trees, from the roof. The drops were not like rain-drops, but bigger, softer. More exquisite. They made one realize how one loves the fertile earth and hates this snow-bound cold substitute.

The men worked outside on the snowy road, trying to raise the telegraph pole. Before they began they had lunch out of a paper. Sitting astride the pole. It is very beautiful to see people sharing food. Cutting bread and passing the loaf, especially cutting bread in that age-old way with a clasp-knife. Afterwards one got up in a tree and sat among the branches working from there, while the other lifted. The one in the tree turned into a kind of bird, as all people do in trees – chuckled, laughed out, peered from among the branches. Careless. At-tend! Ar-ret! Al-lez!

I love that description of the very ordinary event of the putting up of a telegraph wire.  I wonder if she intended the Eucharistic allusion?  That excerpt was written in 1922,  who writes like that anymore?  It’s just magnificent.  I think Miss Mansfield must have loved words.

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