Northern Minnesota sunset

First impressions

So this past weekend I finally got to head up north to take a much-needed cabin getaway.  And in regards to my previous blog post, yes it is like a regular home filled with all the amenities a home would have!

I did get a chance to fish a little and relax while just soaking up the sun. Play some cards with friends and just take in this new area I had not been to before. But it was during a sunset boat ride while I was looking at the sun shining on the woods, so deep and thick in some places, this thought came to me that usually does when I am out of the city: how did early explorers survive when they first got here?

Think about the first time you saw your favorite spot in the woods, and how it made you feel.  It sometimes boggles my mind to think what explorers thought when they first saw the American landscape. And certainly, encounters with Native Americans who were already familiar with it.

Early American colonial literature was mostly travel narratives. Basically, journals. Virginia plantation owner Willam Byrd II wrote a narrative on the “dividing line” between North Carolina and Virginia that’s quite blunt at times, once referring to a “dreadful…horrible swamp” which he wonders how inhabitants “lived their whole lives within the smell of it.”   Massachusetts Bay Colony resident Mary Rowlandson famously wrote about her captivity at the hands of Natives, in which she spent almost three winter months in the cold and snow. At certain points she even talks about sleeping on sticks to avoid the cold ground! And William Bradford observed the following upon his arrival to what became the infamous Plymouth Plantation:

“And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness…”

Ouch!

 

So what do you think would have been the hardest part about survival in the “wilderness” several hundred years ago. Snakes? Mosquitos? Winter? Something else?

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