Of Curious Workmanship
by Edgar G. Snow, Jr.
My Year’s Supply of Food for Thought
[p.116]Remember when Docksiders became really popular and sartorially self-righteous East Coasters like myself used to say, “Oh, I wore them before they were in style”? Now, with such a rich food storage tradition, it’s the Mormons’ turn to brag we were ahead of our time. In the midst of raging Y2K apocalypticism, our neighbors and evangelical cousins have finally discovered how to hoard food—and, I might add, guns and ammo—while we’ve already bee there and done that. The market’s so hot, I wouldn’t even be surprised if Fisher-Price comes out with a “lil” survivalist 72-Hour Kit” for next Christmas.
Am I mocking our cherished doctrine of preparing every needful thing? No. In fact, I just got through installing extra shelves in the basement to make more [p.117]room for our own growing food supply. I also welcome my ward’s current efforts to energize us toward action through helpful tips, hints, and suggestions. In fact, just a few weeks ago I learned that if you had to, you could live off of earthworms and pondscum and our Relief Society president even had a recipe (Pondscum & Earthworm Lasagna). I haven’t been able to buy this stuff in bulk, though. There is one question, however, that no one has been able to answer for me and I’d like to pose it to the readers of this book: Can I subtract from (x), the number of pounds of wheat per person I’m supposed to store, (y), the number of pounds of body fat I already carry around my midsection?
Over the years I’ve also been diligent about maintaining a year’s supply of food for thought just in case of an emergency. I keep enough books in the car to last me and the family for seventy-two hours. Come to think about it, I wouldn’t mind a minor catastrophe occurring a years from now, say like a huge icestorm that knocks out power for just a couple of weeks. I could then sit down with my family huddled around the fireplace till civilization is restored, and, while guarding our food with an M-16 rifle, catch up on a little reading. You can affix a combination book champ/reading light to the rifle scope fairly easily. Okay, okay, so I don’t really own a gun.
[p.118] Hmmm … what would I read? I’m drooling over the possibilities and may have to surf over to Amazon.com with VISA in hand. Shelby Foote’s three-volume Civil War narrative? Runciman’s three-volume history of the Crusades? All 3,000 pages of Proust? Joseph Campbell’s five-volume atlas of world mythology? The Riverside Shakespeare, including every annotation? All of Robert Graves’s novels and his compilation of Greek myths and (with Patai) Hebrew myths? The Journal of Discourses? Quasten’s four-volume Patrology treatise? Mircea Eliade’s three-volume Patrology treatise? No … I’ve got it. The entire Oxford English Dictionary!
A year’s supply of books nicely compliments your supply of food and other essentials. In fact, books, in a pinch, make a good fuel supply. A former home teacher told me that from his own personal experience, Sunstone and Dialogue make excellent kindling, while each of Mike Quinn’s Mormon Hierarchy volumes burn for at least one hour (fifteen minutes, if you exclude the notes).
On a final note, now’s also the time to write that eschatological (not to be confused with scatological) novel you’ve been putting off all these years—they’re big hits right now and should make for good reading during a Y2K-induced societal meltdown (you’d better make a small shelf for reading materials above the [p.119]chemical toilet or latrine in the outhouse you’re building). In fact, if you’re inclined to write one, you probably believe that there won’t be any printing presses or computers that will be able to print it next year, so hurry up! I’m mulling over such a novel plot right now. All you need is s a Hewlett-Packard calculator, a Greek lexicon, the Book of Revelation, Crowther’s Prophecy: Key to the Future, and a handful of one-dimensional characters in predictable end-world situations. My own preliminary studies suggest (with a little help from The Portable Nostradamus), for instance, a powerful case can be made that the number 666 is really 999 turned upside down! That discovery by a handsome early-morning seminary teacher is the primary plot. Look for it soon from my own imprint, “White Horse & Yellow Dog’s Tail Press.”