At nearly seventeen years of age, Lydia finds excitement in the little things as a means of surviving boredom. She observes the change in seasons, enjoys talking to the animals she tends, and to her mama’s frustration—day dreams far too often. Read on to learn about some details that are not fully revealed between the pages themselves and get an exclusive glimpse into the heart and mind of Lydia Sinclair…
Springtime is among the times Lydia looks forward to the most. Winter tends to keep her and Mama confined to inside the cabin, aside from chopping wood for the fire and feeding the animals in the barn. So when the weather warms enough for Lydia and Mama to take their walks to the pond and the forest’s edge, Lydia can hardly contain herself. Though the walks hardly produce variety beyond seeking out a rare flower, they also provide Lydia brief moments where Mama is at a distance.
During their first spring walks, Lydia collects a sample of all the first flowers to bloom. The fresh flowers decorate their kitchen table until they begin to wilt. Then Mama removes them, disposing of them in secret.
Mama says there are no other humans—anymore. So why are Lydia’s dreams filled with images of humans she has never seen…of men or angels that spark her need for more?
Lydia does not tell Mama about these dreams. They are one of Lydia’s favorite things, if only because she can keep them a secret.
Aside from the dreams her mind creates beyond her control, Lydia also holds her daydreams close. They help her pass the time, and allow her to imagine a world beyond the Valley, even if that world means heartache and pain and all the things Mama says are not a part of God’s plan for them. What would it have been like to live in past worlds where men like Samson and David had lived? Would Lydia have grown to be a woman these men desired…someone they would rescue? What would it be like to have servants, to live in comfort? Why couldn’t God make a way for her to experience such things and still protect her from evil?
Though Mama is not cruel, her presence limits Lydia’s imagination and breeds feelings of guilt over the smallest things such as catching a glimpse of herself in the pond water. Yet, the more Mama tries to suppress Lydia’s natural curiosity, the more Lydia desires to break free from their mundane Valley life. If only there was something beyond the Valley aside from certain death…if only God would provide another human to assist with the work.
From as early as she could remember, Lydia has spoken to the animals as if they were humans. Her chickens, the sheep, and her dearest friend—Megan, their cow—provide Lydia with a safe place to share her thoughts aloud. The animals also provide a window into the roles of male and female and producing offspring. This only generates more curiosity among Lydia’s imagination, as she wonders about how humans once populated other worlds. But Mama quickly halts Lydia’s line of questioning, leaving Lydia to her own imagination. Something tells her there is more to the human family than that of their animals’. Mama’s answers do not make sense, but Lydia has no recourse.
Each season, Mama and Lydia make a variety of offerings for the angels. Then Mama delivers the offerings in exchange for tools and supplies that help them care for the animals, make their own clothing, and create future offerings. This is the only time either of them are allowed to leave the Valley. Since Lydia must wait until she completes her passage into womanhood, only Mama is permitted to deliver offerings. Mama also says that Lydia will need to earn her right to deliver offerings by designing and sewing a unique gown for the angels. This is Lydia’s best chance to see the top of the mountain and finally meet the angels. She strives year after year to create the most beautiful gown the angels have ever seen.
In addition to sewing dresses, offerings also include jams and pies, spun yard and quilts. The more they make the better tools and supplies they get in return.
WHEN MAMA DELIVERS OFFERINGS
Finally, Lydia looks forward to the three days Mama is gone each season. Though her heart’s desire is to accompany Mama, being alone in the Valley also affords Lydia the freedom to daydream and explore the Valley without Mama’s critical eye. Of course, Lydia would not dare leave the boundaries and venture into the forest’s edge. But she can imagine a man at her side, joining her in walks to the pond or chopping wood while she bakes an amazing pie they will share by the fire in the evening. If only…