At the End of Your Rope

Pulling, lifting, holding, securing, lashing and binding. Construction, seafaring, sports, adventure.

For these purposes, even in our age of advanced technologies, nothing has or will ever come along to replace “the rope.”

First found in use around 17,000 years ago, the basic design has remained little changed,  the natural jute, cotton, or hemp fibers have been replaced by nylon and other synthetics since my boyhood. (I remember how hard on the hands was the natural rope we used in the last-evening bonfire tug-of-war at summer camp.)

It is such an inexpensive and low-tech tool with so many varied and practical uses in everyday life that I marvel that some kind of knots-and-bends instruction is not a mandatory part of everyone’s early education.

So towards that end I highly recommend you parents and grandparents go to the site below (image above from that site). From the long lists, find a bend, an end-loop, mid-loop, bend and hitch that you like.

Become proficient in these four “knots” and then teach them to your young person, explaining when and where each might be used. My guess is that,   watching the step by step instructions,  young minds and hands will catch on with alarmingly greater ease than your venerable old noggin and gnarly digits.

Do this, and you will have passed along life skills worth knowing. And they will thank you for it. (You may have to upload the site to their cellphone to generate any interest at all and to increase the odds of participation.)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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