Friday, August 24, 2012

There's Hoarders, and there's Hoarders

I hear people talk about hoarding.  The reality show, Hoarders, along with others of similar vein, seem to have put the more extreme mentality of hoarding into the mainstream consciousness.  And perhaps I even engage in a certain amount of hoarding.  I hate the idea of throwing things into the landfill that still have materials left on them that can be reused or remade into something useful. 

After going through nearly all of the totes of children's clothes I have collected throughout my nineteen years of parenting, I'm beginning to wonder if I quality as a full fledged hoarder.  In my defense, I think I simply had many children to clothe and was determined to spend little or no money on the process.  Because we live in a  very opulent era, everyone else has much more than they need and people like to pass things on.  To whom do they pass things?  They look for the people who would need them most, and well, large families tend to look "needy".  It's a very kind-hearted gesture.  And thankfully, you wouldn't believe it if I told you how little I've spent on clothes for my kids throughout the years.  But gradually, it appears, I have saved more of these gifts of clothing than I realized.  Certainly more than we would ever need. 

I currently have twelve very large boxes sitting in my front entry way waiting their trip to Goodwill in Grand Forks.  I also have several smaller boxes of things for consignment, and various other bags and boxes to go here and there.  Everyone still has a full dresser, and there are clothes packed away for most of the upcoming sizes.

So, the good news is, that I am making progress on what seemed for so long an impossibly daunting undertaking.  I am very excited about all the order, and new-found space we will have once I get everything hauled out.

In between my various jobs, I take a few minutes here and there to read.  I'm currenly re-reading the Ranger's Apprentice series.  It's a middle school level series of adventure stories with a fictional medieval setting that is roughly based upon Europe and the surrounding areas.  The main characters accupy a country called Araluen, which is somewhat comparable to England.  There is also Celtica, Teutlandt, Gallica, Skandia, etc.

The Ranger Corps is a sort of intelligence group that specializes in steath, gathering information, and a mysterious set of skills that give others the impression that they are almost magical.

Right now, I'm reading book four of the series, The Battle for Skandia.  In this installment, the famous ranger, Halt, and his apprentice, Will, team up with the Skandian jarl, Erak, to help the Skandians fight off an invasion by the Tumajai, who are roughly comparable to the Mongols.

Since the Skandians prefer a straightforward, bashing kind of conflict with their fearsome battle axes, they are dependent upon Halt and Will to lead them in forming some strategies to fend off the Tumajai hoards.  One of the ideas, the merits of which Halt and Will are discussing, is whether they could train some of the Skandian slaves to serve as archers.  These archers would be trained to release arrows at a command, which would include instructions indicating at what angle to hold the bows, in order to hit the invading armies at just the right spot.

The idea is Will's and he is waiting for Halt's reply.  He is pleasantly surprised when Halt, likes the idea.
Will had been waiting for his mentor to point out the fundamental flaw in his logic.  Now he saw that Halt was considering his proposal seriously.  Then he noticed the look of exasperation that grew on Halt's face as he found the flaw.

"Bows," the Ranger said, disappointment in his voice.  "Where would we find a hundred bows in time to let people train with them.  There probably aren't twenty in all Skandia."
At this point in the narrative, both Will and Halt are feeling a bit dejected.  It was a great idea, but it simply will not work.  But then Jarl Erak pipes up.
"I could let you have a hundred,"  Erak said in the depressed silence that followed Halt's statement.  Both the others turned to look at him.

"Where would you find a hundred longbows?"  Halt asked him.  Erak shrugged.

"I captured a two-masted cob off the Araluen coast three seasons ago," he told them.  He didn't have to explain that when a Skandian said season, he meant the raiding season.  "She had a hold full of bows.  I kept them in my storeroom until I could find a use for them.  I was going to use them as fence palings," he continued.  "But they seemed a little too flexible for the job."

"Bows tend to be that way," Halt said slowly, and when Erak looked at him, uncomprehending, he added: "More flexible than fence palings.  It's one of the qualities we look for in a bow."

Well, I suppose you'd know,"  Erak said casually.  "Anyway, I've still got them.  There must be thousands of arrow shafts as well.  I thought they'd come in handy one day."

Halt reached up and laid a hand on the massive shoulder.   "And how right you were," he said.  "Thank the gods for the Skandian habit of hoarding everything."

Well, of course we hoard," Erak explained.  "We risk our lives to take the stuff in the first place.  There's no sense in throwing it away.  Anyway, do you want to see if you could use them?"
A few minutes later, we see the big Skandian jarl in a very satisfied state of mind.
"Excellent,"  he said happily, rubbing his hands together.  "If you decide to use them, I'll be able to charge Ragnak."

"But this is war,"  Will protested.  "Surely you can't charge Ragnak for doing something that will help defend Hallasholm?"

Erak turned his delighted smile on the young Ranger.  "To a Skandian, my boy, all war is business."
I don't know whether anyone without the context of the various personalities can appreciate this interchange as much as those of us familiar with the story line can.  I love the quirky twist it adds to the character development. 

But it does interest me a bit, too, from an anthropological point of view.  Are Scandinavians thought of as hoarders?  Is that a personality trait stereoptype that is widespread today?  It certainly fits, to a degree, with most of those among whom I live who claim Norwegian and Swedish, or even Finnish descent.

And that is not meant at all as an insult.  We save and reuse and refit and refurbish until there is comparably little wasted.  It's a beautiful thing!

No comments: