Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Today's Word: Fid

Today's word is a simple tool. It has no moving parts; no buttons or levers. Fids have been used for generations with no need for upgrades or improvements! That's pretty great!

But the fid is also a small part of a grand tradition that is rapidly being lost in our global embrace of a mechanized future!

You see, a fid is a simple pick, made of finely grained wood, used to work the tightly-wound strands on a rope. Sailors and other outdoorsmen use the fid to rapidly pull apart a rope in order to tie complex knots and splice ends together.

Ropework and knotwork were once considered essential and valuable skills. Ropework was both decorative and utilitarian. It gave people power over their environments, allowing them to secure themselves over cliff-edges, bind poles into latticework, and guide ships to sea. It also served as a medium of expression: From the tedium of tying the same knots over and over, improvisations and artistic flourishes gave idle minds an outlet.

Today, machines tie knots tighter and more efficiently than a person. Buckles, clips and nylon harnesses provide quick alternatives to laborious knotwork. But at what cost?

Certainly, these modern conveniences promote safety and improve productivity. There's no doubt about that! But there is something to be said for knowledge of a craft - particularly one handed down via person-to-person contact. It's how traditions are formed...where local flair comes from. Sadly, as technology presents us with new and exciting solutions, it also threatens to rob us of our character.

In time, a fid may lose all meaning...and then it will simply be a stick. But for a few hearty folk out there, a fid is still an essential tool!

So, most of us will never run across a fid. But perhaps there are local traditions where you live that could stand to be dusted off and re-examined, if not for a practical purpose...then for the simple comfort of tradition.



Blogger Mojo said...

"Yarrrr," Yeoman Urzinlazle complained. "Cap'n! Cook stole me fid and me marline spike and used em as sheesh-ke-bobs fer his bloody scallops!"

7:18 PM  

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