This summer is winding up and so is my chance to sit, feet up, and just read for pleasure. Two very interesting and noticeable things happened in my reading life this summer.
First, I bought the book “The Girls” from Chapters and read it. It’s a novel about conjoined twins from the voice of one of them (mostly). Very interesting. Then I picked up a book called Chang & Eng – another novel but this time based in the history of the world-famous Siamese twins at the turn of the century. They lived long enough to come to America, get married and father more than 20 children. So, in a span of a few weeks I read two different stories about conjoined twins. That was weird.
Then I picked up the novel Ahab’s Wife, a good story (again in the late 1800s) about the woman married to Ahab of Moby Dick fame. I loved the premise and the story. It was particularly fascinating to read about the whaling industry – because of course it doesn’t exist now! Reading about the way that the whales were stripped and boiled into kegs of oil was both gross and fascinating. Of course a very dangerous thing to do on wooden ships! And the oil was very precious cargo and worth a lot of money.
Then, I pick up another book to read – historical fiction, the name escapes me – and it too has reference to whalers and the whaling industry. I also noticed that women used to be trained in the skills of sewing and it was a way to pass the time.
It got me thinking about all the industries that are now defunct. That would be a fun list to brainstorm. Someone told me that the trade of blacksmith is getting extinct. In the agricultural areas – and we are surrounded by Mennonite farmers, some that still farm with horse-powered tools – they cannot get young men to apprentice as blacksmiths. I also read an article that said that finding people who can play “Taps” on the bugle – or play a bugle at all – is hard. In most communities in Canada on Remembrance Day on November 11 they use a taperecorded version to commemorate.
I know young people are picking up knitting and crocheting again, as it is a skill that they can learn from their grandmothers (it seems to have skipped a generation). There are likely a lot of skills we could begin to resurrect, whether for use or for fun.