A couple of days ago as I was driving to work the news got unbearable again so I turned off the radio and started to think. What popped into my head then was something that occurs to me on and off with some regularity. I got to thinking how odd it was in historical terms to be traveling 10+ miles to get to work. Now I know that in a lot of circles this would be considered a short commute, and in fact I view it that way myself. But just pretend you’re living a couple of centuries ago and think about it.
If you were a peasant a while ago, chances are you had to do your traveling by walking. Many peasants (probably especially peasant women) essentially never left home beyond walking to a nearby neighbor’s house or the like. Mind you, if you belonged to a more leisured class you would have traveled quite a bit more, but mostly on horseback or in a carriage. I just looked it up and find that the average speed of a horse’s walk is about 4 miles an hour; a trot is more like 8. So it would not have been common to travel more than 10 miles twice a day several days a week.
And this says nothing about another sort of traveling we tend to take for granted – flying. Just think about that one, and you can see that it is really odd from a historical perspective. To get on a plane and travel for a few hours and cover multiple thousands of miles is a concept that our ancestors would have found hard to accept. And we don’t have to look very many generations back to find that! When I was young, air travel was still pretty exotic. I was 13 when the first commercial jet planes were introduced. So during my own lifetime, the pattern of travel for the average American has changed a lot. I recently looked at a list of frequent-flyer programs for the really frequent traveler – the top levels often require one to travel a million miles. That is a number to contemplate all right!
I think it’s a valuable mental exercise to try to imagine what life used to be like for people at various times in the past. It’s so easy to view your own way of life as “the” way of life, usually unconsciously. But I feel that mental flexibility is valuable in its own right, and this is one of the ways I try to maintain it.
Totally unrelated photo
As always, I feel that a post without a photo is just somehow wrong, so I’m digging back into my old pictures to see what I have that I (hopefully) haven’t shared yet. I don’t have any organized way of seeing what I have included, so I may well repeat a photo that I’ve shown you before. But, oh well – knitting photos are cool even if they are repetitive!
Here’s an outfit I knit last year for Serena, my big girl.
The top is a variation on the Spicy Fitted V-Neck Tee by Stephanie Japel from Fitted Knits, which I love. And here’s a closeup of the knee-socks.
You’ll notice that Serena’s skirt is pretty short – I do sometimes make Serena’s garments shorter than I make things for smaller dolls. It takes a lot more knitting to make something for her than for most of my kids!