Monday, October 29, 2012

Old Ipswich

We've just heard that 17 people have abandoned ship off the Outer Bank in North Carolina. The 3-masted tall ship,  a replica of the HMS Bounty, built for the film Mutiny on the Bounty and used in at least one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, had lost power and was taking on water.    They put on cold water survival suits and launched two 25 - man boats,  How do we know this?  They posted it on their Facebook page. {pauses to reflect on the modern world} Don't worry about them. The Coast Guard is on the case.

The tall ship reminds me that I've been thinking about my ancestors who lived in Ipswich in the 17th century.   They would have had two amazingly beautiful autumn days with no foreknowledge of an approaching storm.  They would have gotten up Monday morning to mild temperatures (it's 60) and bit of rain and gone about their business - as my neighbors are doing, runners and dog-walkers keep going by. They would not have known that part of the town (common grazing land, not houses, then)  would be cut off for much of the day by extraordinarily high tides.  Would they have known that the high tides meant that a big storm was coming?

On the other hand,  they would not have faced power outages, because... duh ... no power, and they probably had wood for fuel stored by their house. Little threat of glass breaking from the wind- only very few rich people had glass, and none of it was in big sheets, like our windows. They would probably have had food stored, because there were no supermarkets.  They probably had chickens and maybe some kind of milk - goat or cow, though I don't know if they drank milk or just used it for cheese. I've heard that even small children drank some kind of hard cider, so they would have presumably had that stored in kegs or something.

They'd have been at risk from fire, with high winds gusting down chimneys that were made of wood, yes, that's right - wood with mud over it. Then, there were the sparks from gusty winds landing on the thatched roofs which were untreated by modern flame retardants.  It would have been pretty miserable to have your house burn down in a hurricane and to lose the few material things they had.

That, of course, is not a misery confined to the 17th century, but I don't think we need to worry about it.

Anyway, as long as my Kindle, my iphone, my computer, and, naturally, the COG and the Cat of COG are safe, no worries.  And, really,  it's true, as someone wise once said - if you can replace it with money, it's not a tragedy.

So COG, followed by Cat.  All that matters.

No comments: