In A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird, there’s one passage that I have read over and over in absolute wonder and disbelief. The background is that IB is trying to get to Estes Park, Colorado, but gets stranded in a place called Canyon with a family of settlers who all think she’s nutty (I do love IB, but they might have a point). She’s miles from civilization with no way to travel except her own two feet. She writes to her sister:
“When the buggy disappeared I felt as if I had cut the bridge behind me. I sat down and knitted for some time – my usual resource under discouraging circumstances. I really did not know how I should get on. There was no table, no bed, no basin, no towel, no glass, no window, no fastening on the door. The roof was in holes, the logs were unchinked, and one end of the cabin was partially removed!”And she sits down and knits.
The contrast between her bleak surroundings and her prosaic activity makes me laugh… what would be the modern equivalent? If I find myself stranded somewhere, should I play solitaire on my computer for a while (until the battery runs out, of course)?
The knitting seems to have the desired effect though, because Isabella goes on to write that, afterwards, she picked herself up and got to work making the cabin habitable. So perhaps there's some sense in it after all.PS She does eventually make it to Estes Park, but that’s another story.