Long Winter’s Nap

I’ve taken the polar express right upstairs to my bedroom, since my downstairs office is a good 15 degrees colder. Computer, books, coffee, check. The only thing I lack here is a canopy bed such as the kind they built during the middle ages.

medieval block print

Long curtains to pull around the sides kept you cozy.


Sleeping might not have been so comfortable today as it involved straw-stuffed, weevil-engorged mattresses. But it was better, I think, than earlier, when the Romans laid themselves out on planks.

Roman Beds

Especially for the wealthier sort in the Middle Ages, drapery offered privacy. Nice when servants and even livestock slept in the same great hall as you did.

med bed and bedroom

I’ve always liked the Dutch version of the canopy, which often appears in Golden Age art with a cradle right near by.

Woman cradle de Hooch

And often a dog. Here there’s also an idea I’d like to bring back tonight, a warming pan into which you place hot coals, then swish it fast between your sheets before you slide between them.

I’ve frequently been tempted  to crawl right in to a bedstead in Colonial museum or historic house. Especially nice is the idea of a blazing fire right nearby.

colonial williamsburg canopy bed

I could hide. Pull the brocade, stay quiet and nobody would find me.

1800 New England bed w curtains and valance

Though they might hear me swiffing the warming pan around.

Van Cortlandt House bed

Wait until spring comes, yank back the curtains, roll out. A survivor of the cold snap of 2014.


Filed under Art, Culture, Dogs, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Writers, Writing

2 responses to “Long Winter’s Nap

  1. That a prone posture leads to death? Not that I’ve heard of.

  2. wendy owen

    Loved the pix of the beautiful and cozy beds!

    We saw many examples of canopied beds in Amsterdam museums. The mattresses were short because, according to one of the guards at least, people were worried that a prone posture would cause the blood to rush to their heads which would kill them. Is that historically accurate?

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