Archive for October, 2009

Vegetarianism and veganism

Jews are picky about their food.  And it’s not because we don’t like food, but because the Torah instructs us regarding what foods we can and cannot eat, and with which other foods.  As a by-product, it makes it difficult for Jews who observe dietary laws to socialize with non-Jews, and makes traveling to exotic locales more complicated.

The Crunch girls are even more picky about their food.  As kids, they tend to prefer foods they can easily identify, and avoid foods that are combined.  (The main exception to this is any food with ketchup on it.)  Two out of three will try new foods without a fight, and one will usually like what she tries.  (Baby Bill likes most foods, God love him.)  Lately, in an effort to decrease the power struggle that often ensues between parents and children in our house over food, I’ve been making less meat of a Shabbat.  We’ve had at least one dairy meal for Shabbat for the past few months, and sometimes two.  The girls ask where the chicken is when we host for lunch and I’ve made dairy or parve, but I don’t get the feeling they miss it much.  It also allows us greater creativity where dessert is concerned.  Butter, with its superior taste and lack of trans-fats can replace margarine, and milk and cream can replace soy milk or Rich’s whip.  In many respects, Shabbat is made more special by the absence of meat.

But still, for me, total commitment to vegetarianism is a stretch.  I know slaughter isn’t pretty, even when it’s done in a kosher manner.  I know the animal has, in most cases, not led a free-range existence, feeding upon grass or seed, running through a barnyard, bedding down in a deep pile of straw in its own stall at night.  I am aware that stock have antibiotics and hormones coursing through their veins (and, by extension, muscles), and fish—both fresh and salt water—live in waters polluted by heavy metals.  I blogged once about MOOSHY, the practice of confining meat consumption to Shabbat and holidays.  For the most part, my family stands by that.  The occasional bowl of chicken soup, the spicy chicken kebabs at our kids’ favorite restaurant, the burger every month or two are satisfying in a way I haven’t yet found with dairy or parve foods.  These meat dishes are sometimes fattening, but no more so than the rich dairy dishes made with starches, cheese or cream.

I’ve been thinking about this again since friends of ours recently became vegans.  (“Gee, I thought they were still Church of England…”)  It seems they read a book that convinced them that animal products were unnecessary for good health, and that plant foods provide all a human needs for a healthy diet and balanced nutrition.  I’ve little doubt this is true, especially in a time when consumption of animal foods is complicated by ethical issues (for stock and workers), pollution, overmedication, and consumer health issues.  And the sanctimoniousness of certain ethical vegetarians (who by definition still consume dairy and eggs) doesn’t hold up to scrutiny when the poor conditions in which the cows and chickens live are exposed.

Vegetables and fruits, of course, have their own problems with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides used to excess by large-scale farming operations.  Many is the time I’ve brought home healthy-looking vegetables (especially sweet peppers, for some reason) and had to throw them out after one bite when all we could taste was chemicals—not even the pepper itself.

I’m no closer to locking in on a firm diet than I was before I began to think and wonder about all these issues.  Carnivores say that the protein in meat and fish is more bio-available than plant proteins; vegetarians say it’s not.  Carnivores say it’s healthier for children to eat meat while they’re young; vegetarians say it’s not.  Lately, the Cap’n and I have been discussing the discrepancies between what medical science tells us and what messages are put out by the public health industry.  In the end, I’m never sure what to think.

So for now, I think the Crunch table will still see the occasional meat meal.  And because some of the produce we’ve been getting in the stores and at the shuk is so riddled with chemicals, we’ll be looking into organic produce, which seems more popular and readily available in Israel than ever before.

I welcome others’ thoughts on this issue.  I’m already so confused, let’s just make my head spin, shall we?

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Amidst all my heavy-weight non-fiction of the last few months, a friend shoved a copy of E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News into my hands.  Its sparse prose, Newfoundland dialect, and total immersion into rural Canadian fishing culture was a welcome escape from religious extremism, assimilation, and worldwide (and soon to be universe-wide) hatred of Israel.

Proulx is fond of short sentences—fragments even.  She uses this prose style to great effect reflecting the thought-speech of Quoyle, her protagonist in this book, a doughy, unlovable, simple-minded man in his 30s with few talents but a heart of gold.  (As he learns the journalism trade, he eventually begins to invent headlines in his own head to describe the events of his life, such as “Man Sounds Like Fatuous Fool” and “Girl Fears White Dog, Relatives Marvelously Upset.”)  His choice to leave a ruined life in New York State and move to his family’s place of origin in Newfoundland enables him to begin again—professionally, socially, paternally, and ultimately, romantically.  He and his aunt, who makes the move with him, are not the most appealing characters in the novel.  Neither are his two young daughters, who are confused and scarred from their own chaotic former life and behave like unkempt savages most of the time.  The characters who won my admiration in the novel were the native Newfoundlanders with their tough work ethic, love of the sea, and wry, self-deprecating humor.  The protagonist’s social life revolves around the four other men who put out the local newspaper, a collection of gossip, car wrecks, sexual abuse, recipes, foreign news lifted from the radio, and—Quoyle’s feature and the title of the novel—shipping news.   The news staff is a cast of sharply-cut characters whose conversations and arguments provide Quoyle (and the reader) with the historical background of the town, the demise of the Newfoundland fishing industry, the many disasters that came with confederation with Canada, and current events in the lives of the townspeople.  Quoyle and the reader both come to love the dialect, salty humor, and rugged will to survive that marks the people of this small corner of North America.

The one thing I didn’t like was that it took nearly 150 pages for me to decide I liked the book.  The sordid details of the life Quoyle left were difficult to get through, and it was a rough transition in Quoyle’s battered station wagon from his disastrous marriage in New York State to Newfoundland and his wind-battered ancestral home where the family stays temporarily, to where he and his daughters ultimately decide to make their home in the town.  Quoyle and his aunt were not characters I could warm to easily, and while that may have been part of Proulx’s point—that sometimes we don’t come to care about people right away, but over time feel at least a grudging sympathy for them—it made me think seriously of putting the book down and finding something more pleasant to read in the early chapters.

I ended up loving the prose, though, and between the wonderful characters and Proulx’s gift for description, I have half a mind to make a trip myself to Newfoundland.  Here is Quoyle, contemplating the sea on p. 209:

These waters, thought Quoyle, haunted by lost ships, fishermen, explorer gurgled down into sea holes as black as a dog’s throat.  Bawling into salt broth.  Vikings down the cracking winds, steering through fog by the polarized light of sun-stones.  The Inuit in skin boats, breathing, breathing, rhythmic suck of frigid air, iced paddles dipping, spray freezing, sleep back rising, jostle, the boat torn, spiraling down.  Millennial bergs from the glaciers, morbid, silent except for waves breaking on their flanks, the deceiving sound of shoreline where there was no shore.  Foghorns, smothered gun reports along the coast.  Ice welding land to sea.  Frost smoke.  Clouds mottled by reflections of water holes in the plains of ice.  The glare of ice erasing dimension, distance, subjecting senses to mirage and illusion.  A rare place.

Okay, so the place sounds like an icy hell.  But a “rare place” indeed.

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A human Ponzi scheme

The Israeli government seems determined to free terrorists from prison.  Sometimes it’s to boost Abbas’s sagging image among his own people.  Sometimes it’s as a “confidence-building” measure to coax the Palestinian Arabs to the negotiating table.  And sometimes, as of late, it’s to negotiate the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

First, 20 Palestinian Arab women were released to secure a video of Shalit to prove he’s alive.  (At least the government made sure he was alive first, unlike last time when hundreds of Arab murderers were released in exchange for Uri Regev’s and Ehud Goldwasser’s corpses.)  These women were not arrested doing their family’s shopping, or while hanging laundry on the line.  They were suicide bombers whose attempts were foiled, were caught smuggling suicide belts, and assisted in the murder or attempted murder of innocent people.

That was just for the video.  Next there’s talk of emptying the prisons of another 1000 Hamas terrorists (most of Israel’s Hamas holdings) in exchange for Shalit himself.

I’ve written in the past about the Torah’s attitude toward redeeming captive Jews.   But if you look at the big picture, i.e. the long term result of “prisoner exchanges” like this, it begins to look like something quite different.  Because today’s prisoners are yesterday’s terrorists (or terrorist-wannabes), and tomorrow’s unrepentant ex-cons who will return to a life of terror.  When they’re put in prison, it isn’t to get them to repent their actions (the origin of the word “penitentiary”); it’s to get them off the streets where they make their murderous mischief.  Setting them free mocks everything that put them into prison in the first place: the laws against murder and terrorism, the risk to the lives of the police, army, and Shin Bet who captured them, and the certain danger to civilians in releasing them again.

I’m no economist, but I was recently made aware of a financial scheme in which people invest large amounts of money on the promise of fat returns.  There really are no such investments, and new investors simply end up paying the dividends for the older investors.  Eventually, this robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul scheme (also known as “Ponzi”) catches up with the operator with disastrous results.  Lives are ruined, fortunes down the tubes, and people everywhere feel as though their expectations and dreams have been shattered.

How different is a Ponzi scheme from what the Israeli government has been doing?  The government is responsible for guaranteeing us security.  So it arrests criminals who have been found to have threatened that security.  Then, to provide even MORE security, i.e. through the illusion of peace or a ceasefire or talks or in response to American pressure or for a video, the government agrees to release those prisoners.  The civilians who were killed by the terrorists just released are gone; they’re not coming back.  But with the lives of unknown Israelis who will die in future attacks plotted and executed by those just released, we’ll pay for even MORE security.  And then the whole process will be repeated.  According to Wikipedia’s definition of a Ponzi scheme, “The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going.”  In other words, it’s the same security we keep getting promised, but gets paid for by an “every-increasing flow of” … blood.

The main difference I see is in the currency (dollars v. human lives).  For those who were shafted by Bernie Madoff, at least you still have your life and your family.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to say the same to the grieving families once these Hamas prisoners are released and return to the waiting arms of their terrorist comrades.

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Leaving home and the ushpizin

This year in our sukkah, the Crunch family had a discussion each night at dinner about who the ushpiz (Biblical guest) for that day.  The first night, we talked about Avraham, his order from Hashem to leave his family and journey to a new land, perhaps never to see his family again.  He obeyed this command, and took his wife, servants, and livestock and set out.

Because Yom Kippur and the story of Yonah the prophet was so recently in her head, 4-year-old Banana pointed out that Yonah was also commanded by God to make a journey, but unlike Avraham he resisted, ran away, and it took living in the belly of a giant fish for a few days to straighten him out.

The next night we began by discussing Yitzhak, Avraham’s son, but found the conversation turned toward Rivka instead.  In some sense, she found herself in a similar situation to that of Avraham and Yonah, where she was presented with the option to go to a new place to live.  But unlike Avraham, she would be leaving her immediate family and everything familiar to her behind, and unlike Yonah, would probably never be able to return home again.  Yet at a tender age (and the Cap’n had no interest in discussing the outlier opinion that she was only three when Eliezer’s proposal was made to her; putting her age at 12 or 13 is quite young enough) she had the middot (good character qualities) to merit Eliezer’s offer, and the guts, foresight, and perhaps the prophesy too to accept them and make her journey.  In the end, Rivka struck us as the gutsiest of the three.

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The davening on Yom Kippur is so intense and so lengthy that is has been my habit when going to services to take with me a book or two of interesting and challenging Jewish content for those times when I need a break.  About ten years ago, the book I took with me was Daniel Gordis’s 1997 Does the World Need the Jews?: Rethinking Chosenness and American Jewish Identity.

I was captivated by his introduction which retells the story of “The Little Mermaid,” both the original version by Hans Christian Andersen, and Disney’s They-All-Lived-Happily-Ever-After version.  His point was how Jews have encountered American society and found themselves faced with the choice between maintaining a separate identity as Jews, or foregoing their distinctive Jewish identity in favor of becoming Americans.  I love stories and his introduction, with its use of Andersen’s fairy tale, did a beautiful job of elucidating the complexity of confronting the “melting pot” attitude in American society, as well as the challenges of maintaining one’s identity in an inclusive society.  By contrasting the two versions of the mermaid’s tale, Gordis effectively illustrates the fantasy of abandoning one’s Judaism to join a world that is more attractive, but to which we do not entirely belong, and the pain and foreignness of abandoning what we truly are as Jews.

For a host of reasons, that was where I stopped ten years ago.  But after reading Gordis’s most recent book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End (which I will review later) in which he seeks to answer the question, “Why be Israeli?”, I was interested to go back and finish the earlier book.

Does the World Need the Jews? tackles a similarly complicated question, i.e. “Why be Jewish in America?”  There’s been plenty of ink spilled over the issue of Jewish continuity and fears about intermarriage, assimilation, and simple drifting away of young Jews from the faith of their fathers.  Rabbi Gordis meets this issue head-on and explores the many sources of discomfort of American Jews, the attempts made by rabbis in the 19th and 20th century to adapt American Judaism in order to slow the drift, and the deep relevance, wisdom, and value of Jewish ways of thinking, learning, and debating that make it worth holding on to.

Gordis, who writes “Dispatches from an Anxious State”, is the author of many books, founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and currently Senior Vice President of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.  He writes compassionately about Jews in America and Israel, and from his experience living in both countries, understands their unique challenges and strengths.  This is of particular value to me, since living in Israel I sometimes feel as though I’ve lost a sense of American Judaism and its worth.  This book outlined for me some of the potential for good in Diaspora life.

Gordis’s central argument is that Jews have a unique mission in the world—a mission to share their wisdom, their belief in the worth and dignity of all people, and their love of freedom.  He points out, however, that over the years, American Jews have become confused between Jewish values and secular, liberal, American values.  Because the struggle to become real Americans often conflicted with the education of young Jews, the desire to be American often won the day at the expense of Jewish education.  Without spending the time learning what is Jewish, Jews only learned what was American.  This is what has created the sense in many American Jews that Judaism is liberalism.  Gordis writes, “In this scheme, Jews internalized the commitment to individualism and autonomy that often characterized liberalism in America.  The more Jews equated Judaism with liberalism, the less law in their religion made sense.  If American life is about freedom and autonomy, Jews wondered, why should they care about a constraining religious tradition that erodes their autonomy?  …And Jews are discovering that without law at its core, Judaism will not be very different from Christianity” (p. 144).

The confusion between Judaism and liberalism takes many forms.  Gordis describes the toll political correctness and multiculturalism have taken on Judaism’s unique voice.  He validates the discomfort many liberal-minded Jews feel as a result of hostility from those in the Black, feminist, and academic world (where the role of Jews in the slave trade is sometimes wildly exaggerated, Jewish law is rejected categorically because of its sexism, and Jewish institutions host speakers who deny the Shoah).  In one of my favorite discussions, he criticizes the phrase “Judeo-Christian ethic,” which he says really “‘just means Christian.’  It pays lip service to Christianity’s Jewish roots, but little more.  After all, what is ‘Judeo’ about the Judeo-Christian ethic that is not also Christian?  What, in other words, is distinctively Jewish about that tradition?  Why is it not simply a ‘Christian ethic’?”  In the fullness of his discussion, he points out that Christian texts (i.e. those texts foreign to Judaism) are viewed as part of this ethic, but Jewish texts foreign to Christianity are not.  He writes, “The bottom line: in America, ‘Judeo-Christian’ is a polite way of saying ‘Christian,’ and American Jews so desperately wanted to be included that we never noticed” (p. 176).

Perhaps the most dramatic example he gives of Jews abandoning their own particularism in the search for acceptance and universalism is the inscription on the wall of the $65 million Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, which not only leaves out any indication of its Jewish nature in the name of the building, but also offers a very stripped-down translation of a displayed Torah passage.  The translation of Genesis 12:1-3 offered is, “Go forth … and be a blessing to the world.”  What the Torah passage says in its entirety is something quite different:

The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.”

A rabbi at the Skirball Center said the intention behind the ellipsis was to appeal to unaffiliated Jews, to give them the impression that the people at the Center were not “dogmatic” (pp. 50-51).  It is presumably this same desire to appeal to non-dogmatic Jews that informs the Reform decision to cut out part of the Havdalah service in which we bless God who has separated the light from darkness, the Jews from the other nations, and the Sabbath from the six days of Creation.

The book has many strengths.  Gordis carefully avoids pointing fingers at, or even mentioning, specific Jewish movements.  I believe he is right to do this, since the movement with which one affiliates is not necessarily an indicator of one’s practice of Judaism.  He believes that the answer to the fears about Jewish loss of purpose are applicable to Jews of all ages and movement affiliations: study of Hebrew and Jewish texts and incorporation of traditional practice in the home.  He sets out to make Jews feel comfortable again with the notion of chosenness, examining texts, holidays, and liturgy to extract a Jewish message for Jews left ignorant by their upbringing.  He distinguishes Judaism from American liberalism, revisiting Jewish sources to emphasize Judaism’s stress on the community rather than the individual.  And he urges Jews to rededicate themselves to Jewish education, both for children and adults who were abandoned educationally after becoming bnei mitzvah.  “Our leaders,” he writes, “feared that by placing too many demands on Jews, it would force us to flee.  They imagined that in an era in which Jews could easily decide not to remain Jewish, the logical step was to raise as few ‘obstacles’ to Jewish identification as possible.  …If we are to be honest, American Jews will need to acknowledge that Jewish tradition speaks if and only if it is lived; there is no way to appreciate it from the sidelines” (p. 244).  Gordis’s book is a clarion call for American Jews to educate themselves and take up their mission.

I find his message inspiring, and see potential for it to revitalize young Jews in America, especially those who are still trying to define themselves and develop their Jewish identity.  I think perhaps he is overly optimistic in his encouragement of Jews to participate as Jews in public, political debates including those over abortion, capital punishment, teacher tenure, flag-burning, and family size.  Americans who populate the extremes in those debates are usually secular and focused entirely on individual rights, or fundamentalist Christian Americans for whom those are black-and-white issues determined by a literal reading of the Bible.  I can’t imagine either set of combatants being interested in Jews getting involved, especially if that would involve introducing ambiguity, multiple opinions, and uncertainty about the truth into the fray.  In short, I think even if Jews were to raise their unique voice over these issues, there would be few interested in listening.

In addition, at the beginning of his book, Gordis stresses that his message in this book is for all Jews, including those uncomfortable with God, who are not interested in embracing traditional practice.  Yet in the rest of the book he calls for all Jews to return to traditional (not necessarily Orthodox) practice.  While I know that for Conservative Jews (of which Gordis is one, at least through rabbinic ordination), Judaism is seen as a culture rather than merely a religion, I still saw this as a contradiction, and one which might not appeal to people for whom practice has no meaning without some belief in God or sense of religious obligation.

Despite my critiques, reading Gordis’s books gave me a new perspective on Diaspora life and its potential for contributing to American society—if American Jews heed his call.

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Obama, Prince of Peace

On Friday, the Cap’n came into the kitchen where I was preparing my last festive meals for the 5770 holiday season and said, “They’ve announced the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.”  Then he fell silent.

Nu?” I asked, taking my French apple pie out of the oven.  “Who’d they give it to?”

“The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner is Barack Obama.”


My response here was the same as when he called me from his office on the morning of September 11, 2001 and told me that a plane had flown into one of the buildings at the World Trade Center.

And quite honestly, I’m still scratching my head over this.

Let me think this through, now.  I have been under the impression for much of my adult life that Nobel Prizes are awarded for achievement.  Economists and scientists get them for discoveries they’ve already made and theories on which they’ve expounded at length.  Authors get them for bodies of work—sometimes decades’ worth of writing—that has stood the test of time and made a significant cultural contribution to the world.  And in most cases, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a person or persons viewed as having accomplished great things in the service of world peace.

But something has obviously shifted in the world.  This year’s Nobel laureate for peace has been in office for nine months, and made one significant speech of international interest in that time.  The Israelis and Palestinians are no nearer to hammering out an agreement.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s reputation (and that of Fatah, his political and sometimes-terrorist party) has nosedived since he was pressured by Obama to attend a summit in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, delighting their openly-terrorist enemies in Hamas and making Palestinian Arab unity even further from being achieved.  The Arab world has no more interest in recognizing the Jewish State than they had before the famous Cairo University speech.  And the questionably-elected Iranian Islamic Republic is full-steam ahead on its nuclear program while Obama continues to entertain the illusion that at this stage in Ahmedinejad’s nuclear enrichment program, diplomacy still has a role to play.  (This brief assessment does not, of course, explore the status quo in North Korea, China, the Sudan, Liberia, or any other hot spot on the conflict-ridden political world map.)

I don’t dislike Obama as a person, and I still think he may do good things for America domestically speaking.  But I think it’s significant that rather than award the prize to someone who has been getting his or her hands dirty saving people in developing countries from starvation, disease, and political collapse, it was given to an inexperienced former senator from Illinois whose only significant international accomplishment was to make a speech minimizing the Jewish right to live in Israel and making nice to the Arab world.

I’m not saying that the next person to earn a Nobel for peace has to have overseen the signing of a final status agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs.  The Great Handshake on the White House lawn between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin (who shared their prize with the current President of Israel, Shimon Peres) was something people thought impossible.  Although their clandestine agreement, the Oslo Accords, was doomed to failure (and in fact brought years of war with over 1000 Israeli civilian casualties), the photo-op of what everyone thought was little more than a fantasy wasn’t insignificant.

In other words, the Handshake was tangible.  It was the product of painful concessions, eating of words, and temporary shelving of aspirations in the name of peace.  It represented a concrete commitment (at least on the part of Rabin and Peres; Arafat was just playing along for the international attention) and was a visible meeting of enemy, disparate minds.  It was something.

So what does it mean that this year’s Peace Prize winner is Barack Obama?  Is it because there were no other promising candidates?  The Cap’n said there was a short list with some very worthy people and activities on it.  Is it a gesture by the Committee to put pressure on the Leader of the Free World not to get involved in a military conflict in Iran?  I don’t think there’s any need for that; Obama has made clear his intentions to recall American servicepeople from Afghanistan and Iraq in the near future, and that he has no interest in getting Americans involved in any further military activities.  (Editor David Horovitz wrote in last Friday’s Jerusalem Post that if Obama’s plan for diplomacy and economic sanctions against Iran fails, his approach will most likely be “assuring the American people that the US security establishment will protect them from a nuclear Iran, but that he was not prepared to authorize the use of military force to prevent a nuclear Iran.  And it is certainly possible to envisage much of the American public applauding him for such a stance.”)  Is it an advance bonus for someone the Committee thinks might actually be able to make peace in the world, but needs the pressure of the award to make him follow through?  Perhaps that’s the most likely theory of all.

I don’t believe for a minute that Obama’s Cairo Speech merited this prize.  Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute didn’t get her chemistry prize this year for making a speech about chemistry; she was awarded it after decades of brilliant thinking and hard work.

The hard work for President Obama has hardly begun.  Let’s hope he does it by actually bringing about peace.

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I knit, and I like jokes.  Here’s a good one from E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News which I finished recently:

“I can tell you about the time buddy was ripping along down the Trans-Canada knitting about as fast as the truck was going when this Mountie spies him.  Starts to chase after him, doing a hundred and forty km per.  Finally gets alongside, signs the transport feller to stop, but he’s so deep in his knitting he never notices. … Mountie flashes his light, finally has to shout out the window, ‘Pull over!  Pull over!’  So the great transport knitter looks at the Mountie, shakes his head a bit and says, ‘Why no sir, ’tis a cardigan.'”

Okay, corny joke, but I love it anyway.  The image of truck drivers roaring down the roads of Canada while knitting is burned on my brain.  Men knitting–just like the old days.  Yes, my friend Heather tells me shepherds used to knit while their sheep grazed and did whatever it is sheep do all day.  (If they’re anything like my kids, they would be crowding around, peering at my knitting, asking, “Is that MY wool you’re knitting with?”)

Proulx did plenty of research (and possibly fell in love with Newfoundland as her bio says she splits her time between there and Vermont) while writing the novel.  I don’t know how much of it is true, how much local legend, and how much just Newfie humor, but the same character claims, “This driver used to barrel right across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, had his arms sticking through the steering wheel, knitting away like a machine.  Had a proper gansey knit by the time he got to Montreal, sell it for good money as a Newf fisherman’s authentic handicraft.”

Who ever said men can’t multitask?

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