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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pilgrims & a self-sufficient life

I need to spout off about something that is really irritating me!

I recently read a book to my 6 year-old about the first Thanksgiving (to my readers not from America, Thanksgiving is a November celebration which commemorates a feast between first permanent religious settlers in America (Pilgrims) and the Native Americans).

This was a really simple children's picture book, only 20 pages or so long.  So why am I spouting off about it?

Oh, did it irritate me!!!  After taking this path toward a more self-sufficient life, I've learned so much about growing & preserving food, using wood for heat & cooking, and more.  Apparently the Pilgrims were, ahem, lacking in such knowledge.

This book mentioned that the Pilgrims landed at Massachusetts on December 21 after a 2-month journey across the ocean.  Hello?!!  What???!!  You left England at the end of October for a country that is colder in the winter, and you left to arrive on the Winter Solstice???  Did they not plan this out or what?  If I had been a Pilgrim, I definitely would have left in March.  Seems obvious to me!  They would have arrived here with plenty of time to plant the seeds they didn't bring along.

So now I have had my eyes opened.  It is no wonder only 50 of the original 102 survived the cold winter. 

I now realize how truly wonderful it was that the compassionate Native Americans stumbled across them in the spring and taught them how to plant the 3 sisters: corn, squash, and beans.  Of course, sharing their own seeds because the Pilgrims didn't bring their own (!).  Teaching them to hunt (!) and on and on.  Imagine what these Native Americans must have thought of these Pilgrims!  :-)  I'm surprised they didn't laugh them away, but after seeing them starving to death amongst all their dead & buried children and kinfolk I understand why they felt compelled to help.

I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, and of course I'm drawing this assumption after reading a simple children's book, but.... were the Pilgrims a religious fanatic cult?  I know, I know, they were persecuted in England.  But why would they follow this leader (yes, there was a leader, it mentioned his name in the book), and embark in October for a cold land without any knowledge or preparation to survive once they got there? Risking the lives of their children in doing so?!  I truly wonder if nowadays we wouldn't label them as a religious cult.

I'm hoping to find a good book about Squanto, the Native American who taught them to plant vegetables. It mentioned in the book that he had been kidnapped, brought to England, and found his way back to America 5 years later. He spoke English as a result, which is how he communicated with the Pilgrims.  What a story! 

Hope I didn't offend anyone with this spout, but really I was shocked about the Pilgrims after my own journey.


  1. Hmmm, interesting supposition! I wonder how much of their ill-preparedness was due to the lack of information? I mean, America was so new, and it wasn't like they could search Google, lol (how DID we survive before Google?!). Also, I believe that although the Pilgrims came from Holland, they were originally from England, and were mostly city-dwellers, and we know what non-com-poops city dwellers are :)

    (Good topic of conversation! You should bring it up with Dave A and watch his reaction; just warn me first so I can watch :)

  2. The Pilgrims were actually Puritans from England. There was a lot of controversy and they were basically being persecuted. They were disappointed with the Church of England and the changes it had or had not made from the Catholic church...
    SO they were going to where they could practice their beliefs with out censure.. Maybe they had to leave quickly..
    The real story is pretty interesting and PBS is playing a special called We Shall Remain.. It tells alot of info about the first Thanksgiving and how the Indians helped the Pilgrims.. It then goes on to tell the rest of the Indians story as America is settled by white people and we take more and more of their land..

  3. Lol. Even being city dwellers, I just can't believe how stinkin ill-prepared they were and the timing of when they left!
    Of course, the Puritans were very, very strictly religious so maybe they hopped on the boat assuming God would take care of them. Which he would have, if they had left earlier in the year with some seeds and saws.
    America wasn't that new by the time they arrived (early 1600s). Many merchants & traders had been here (this is how the Natives who helped them spoke English), and Jamestown had already been settled.
    There must have been knowledge about the land, right?
    It just seems so silly to me that they didn't even bring seeds.
    Another book I ready yesterday mentions that there were farmers on board. Did they brainwash them first into forgetting their trade?
    Hee hee, spoken as people who really, truly love History here.
    I would love to see the PBS special. Sounds great!