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2011-04-28 digital edition

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2011-04-28 / General Stories

Swiss Family Snyder

My daughter recently finished reading Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss. I like to have something to read before going to bed at night when I run out of crossword puzzles. It was a perfect storm of opportunity.

On my nightstand was the book my daughter had left there. I picked it up and began reading about the maelstrom that wrecked the family’s ship.

One minute I was in my cozy bed reading a classic tale, and the next, I was tying laundry baskets together with electric cords so we could float to the island in the distance. In my mind, the laundry baskets would have no problem floating despite the fact that they were full of holes.

We put all the kids, two cats, two hamsters, a fish and our pineapple plant into each of the laundry baskets and used a garden rake to paddle to safety.

Later, I would think that bringing a fish to an island was really unnecessary and that since pineapple plants only produce one fruit after three years, we should have used that basket for something more practical; like food or water. At least the fishbowl had water in it.

At the island, we’d each have to pull our own weight if we wanted to survive. I assessed each person and the skills that each could bring to the table.

My youngest boy is impulsive, adventurous, and bossy. He would probably be the one who would find the necessities we needed due to his penchant for exploration and his willingness to try new things. except any kind of vegetable or meat. He would also be the one we’d need to rescue most often. If there were pirates, he’d try to befriend them and then tell them how to be pirates.

My daughter can make things out of nothing. She could make a set of china out of coconuts and oyster shells. If my husband made her a notched stick and presented it to her as a crochet hook, she’d make us each a wardrobe made of palm fibers and squirrel hairs. She’s awesome that way.

My fourteen-year old is extremely smart about many things. He could tell us whether an animal was poisonous, how to catch said animal, how to make gunpowder, and how to catch an animal with gunpowder. He could tell us when the first full moon would be, what the probability is of an airplane from Dulles flying over our island anytime in the next four years (zero), and the concentration of sulfur in our drinking water. He could tell us exactly what was in everything we ate but, since he subsists on an exclusive diet of burgers and peanut butter, he would also be the first to succumb to starvation.

My husband thinks if he has his magnesium flint stick and a coffee pot, he is invincible; the ultimate Survivorman. Sometimes he can get carried away with the whole survival thing, though. My youngest boy could catch a lobster with his toe and my husband might throw it back (the lobster, not the toe), in favor of cooking some beastly worm for dinner. We would have to curb his zealousness.

Me, well, I have always prided myself on the fact that I can cook a spaghetti dinner over an open fire. (I didn’t think about where I was going to find spaghetti on a deserted island. That was clearly my youngest son’s job.) I have also been known to accidentally set my kitchen on fire; a skill which could come in handy when trying to alert passing ships of our presence.

When I awoke this morning, I decided that, in spite of our dubious survival skills, I would prefer not having to test them. ever. The prudent thing to do would be to avoid ships of any kind.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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