American writer Sarah Orne Jewett was born on this date in 1849, in South Berwick, Maine. She had rheumatoid arthritis from childhood, which must have been especially difficult living in northern New England long before central heating. Brrrr.
But her family (including her father and grandfather, both doctors) encouraged an active and independent childhood when possible:
...the Jewetts took a philosophical view of Sarah's illness, neither denying nor belittling it nor allowing to tyrannize over her life. They were sympathetic, but there was always the expectation that as soon as the pain subsided there were duties and diversions waiting, most of them outdoors. Her father believed that exercise was as important as rest in keeping the disease at bay, and she became amazingly active and sturdy, considering her handicap. A strong cross-country walker, she liked best to strike out across the fields, taking a book along, hunting out rare flowers and herbs and visiting favorite trees as if they were old friends. She was an expert horsewoman and rower, and she enjoyed skating, swimming, and coasting.(from Paula Blanchard, Sarah Orne Jewett: Her World and Her Work [DaCapo Press 2002]: p. 31)