Friday, July 20, 2012

How do you multi-task?

A cover of  French magazine Figaro Illustre, 1896
The last few days have found me back at my knitting. Perfect for those quiet winter afternoons. I can knit and listen to a podcast and sometimes I pack the needles in the car and add a few rows when I'm in the school car park, waiting for my children to emerge. 

You can imagine how taken I was by these pictures of French shepherds, knitting atop their stilts whilst keeping a careful eye over their flocks. Well known in the south west of France, these shepherds used to travel far distances to secure a better grazing location, keep the little creatures in sight at all times, and ensure their own feet stayed dry in the marshlands where they worked. 
French Shepherd - 1905

‘The shepherds of the Landes spent whole days on stilts, 15 foot ash-wood poles with webbed feet that allowed them to vault across a canal 26 feet wide. They used a stick to form a tripod when they wanted to rest. Perched ten feet in the air, they knitted woolen garments and scanned the horizon for stray sheet. People who saw them in the distance compared them to tiny steeples and giant spiders. They could cover up to  75 miles a day (120 kms) at 8mph or horse trotting speed. It was such an efficient mode of transport that letters in the Landes were still being delivered by postmen on stilts in the 1930s.’ Robb, G. 2007, The Discovery of France, Picador, London. 

Incredible? I think so! 

We all like to squeeze the most from our days. I love knowing the washing machine's on while I tuck fresh sheets onto the beds, the chickens are fed, a cake's in the oven and pizza dough's rising by the fire. But I couldn't knit at the same time as traipsing across marshlands on stilts. With... or without a flock of ewe lambs underfoot. 

What's your multi-tasking speciality? Do you have a story to match our French shepherds? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend, whether it be spent accomplishing much, or enjoying a well earned rest.

See you Monday,