Sunday, April 08, 2007
Before I write about heroines, I research the situations into which I dump them, and I like to think that if I were their age, in the shape they are in, and in similar circumstances, I could do almost as well.
But could I?
Could I purify and filter water without a commercial tablet or a store-bought gadget on my plumbing? If global warming reduced my neighborhood to something close to a dust bowl, could I find water? Could I follow my own survival advice that I dish up in my "survival romance" Insufficient Mating Material? Could I make pizza from scratch... on a hot rock?
Well, could I?
I might surprise myself. We women may be tougher than we think.
Actually, I used to make pizza when I lived in Dorset. I had a coal fired oven, which meant that I had to shovel coal into the fire box, wait for it to get really hot, and then bake. My paternal grandmother didn't have a refrigerator. She had a slab of marble in a cupboard under the stairs!
But as for doing some of the things Survivorman does.... I'm not sure, and I hope I never find out, but I pay attention, and I'm thinking of buying some of the best fire making tools I've seen him use on his show, and keeping them in my handbag. It won't do much for the shape of my bag, but a bit of extra weight-lifting should keep my arms and my bones in shape.
Insufficient Mating Material contains quite a lot of information from various survival sources and the consultative wisdom of Survivorman, Les Stroud. Like the hero, Djetth (Jeth), I took part in competitive life-saving at school. I still have all the badges that I earned. However, when I think back to all the mushrooms we used to gather in the local cow pastures at dawn, and the berries we picked from hedgerows in Autumn: hips and haws, elderberry, crabapples, blackberries, I wonder whether I'd dare to today, if I weren't desperate.
My mother would be a lot better at survival than I. She has a head start because she is a passionate (and almost an organic) gardener, and for fruits and vegetables is pretty much self sufficient.
The problem is (for everyday people), practising making shelters by cutting down vegetation is not environmentally responsible, and experimenting with strange berries when I don't have to seems to be asking for trouble.