• Sage Webb

Ossabaw Island Hogs in Iowa Remind Me of Home & of Contrast Between Austen’s England & New World

At this point in the trip, I’ve covered over 1,300 miles ... with Libby living up to her reputation of sporting a “Christmas-tree dash”: all warning lights glowing, all the time. Road construction, people driving on the shoulder to pass me (and the trucks and trailers in front of me), the banging of the hitch (an extended hitch to accommodate the bike rack means more noise), and a radio that works marginally at best add to the fun in the cabin. I listen to audio books on my phone, but the sound quality lacks.

Finishing Emma today, I moved on to James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers, which opens in 1793. It’s pretty interesting to compare the two works. Emma came out in 1815. The Pioneers debuted in 1823. Cooper was born in 1789, Austen in 1775. Really, the two authors were contemporaries. So the contrast between Regency England and the wilds of the New World comes across all the stronger.

The contrast also came across at my next Harvest Hosts stop: Living History Farms outside Des Moines. This neat attraction loads visitors up for a tractor ride through time and a walk from a 1700s Ioway village to an 1850s pioneer farm to a 1900s hog farm, which housed Ossabaw Island Hogs! Just like the living-history farm near Washington-on-the-Brazos, birthplace of Texas independence.

These hearty pigs appear at living-history farms because their lineage seems to reach back to 16th-century hogs released in Georgia by Spanish explorers (well, released on Ossabaw Island off the Georgia coast).

It was neat to see these familiar pigs here. They reminded me of a fantastic trip the Bosun and I had in the spring, chasing Texas history and reading about the fall of the Alamo in James Donovan’s The Blood of Heroes, an excellent book.

So overall, it was a mind-bending day of tracing Natty Bumppo (slaying deer in leather stockings in 1790s New York) to George Knightley (saving Regency Era English ladies from the mortification of having to sit out a dance) to William Barret Travis (defending the Alamo) all in the space of forty-three years. Pretty big difference between the wilds of New York, Texas, and Iowa, compared to picking strawberries beside a Regency manor in merry old England. But then again, Ossabaw-like hogs likely figured in the diets of all three figures (had Natty and Knightley been real) and on both sides of the “pond.”

Okay, maybe the Christmas-tree dash has addled my brain. But those were my thoughts today.

(The Bosun sent a pic of the boat dog grilling out. I miss my boat buddy.)

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