My 5-year-old granddaughter Rowyn was visiting yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner, and the first thing she saw when she came into the living room was my spinning wheel.
"What's that?" she asked. I explained to her that it made yarn.
She insisted I show her how it worked, so I showed her how to lightly pump the foot pedal (it's not entirely put together yet, but the wheel spins). Rowyn demanded a chair and spent a while getting the rhythm of the pedal down. The adults carried on with their conversation. And then 2-year-old Eoghann wanted a turn at the wheel, and a small scuffle broke out.
Eventually the young folk were convinced to take turns, but Eoghann had no interest in the pedal. He just wanted to spin the wheel with his hands, which is a perfectly sensible activity for a toddler, but incensed Rowyn. It wasn't right.
But then five minutes later, when it was her turn again, she tried spinning the large wheel with her hands too, and it proved more fun. The pedal was abandoned, and soon she was gripping the wheel as if she were piloting a tall-mast ship and declaring, "Look, I'm a pirate!" She went from demure 18th-century spinning maiden to Blackbeard in about thirty seconds.
I wonder how many bored young girls over the centuries, quietly spinning wool at their mothers' hearths, pretended they were actually pirates and sailed away from their task across the raging sea.