Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Echoes of the Little Ice Age

While reading a story at physorg about dating the Little Ice Age and determining what caused it, my mind strayed.

The article mentioned:
" . . . famous paintings from the period depict people ice skating on the Thames River in London and canals in the Netherlands, waterways that were ice-free in winter before and after the Little Ice Age."
This made me wonder. Was the children's book "Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates" an echo of that frozen era? I haven't read the book since I was a boy but my impression is that it presented a world of solidly frozen canals.

The article says the beginning of the Little Ice Age was 1275 A.D. and it lasted through the late 19th century. I'll bet Mary Mapes Dodge, the American who wrote the book in 1865, turned her memories (or her father's or grandfather's memories) of those frozen days into the story of Hans Brinker, a boy who speed-skated over frozen canals in (then) Holland.

Heck, maybe the Little Ice Age had nothing to do with it. I see no mention of it in the Wikipedia article about the book. But I think it played a role. It just makes sense.