Perusing the Peterkin Papers

The more I read about possible solutions to the problem of oceanacidification which involve adding things to the ocean, the more I’mreminded of a chapter in The Peterkin Papers, a classic collection ofchildren’s stories.

The Peterkins are a large family, characterized bytheir complete lack of commonsense. One morning, Mrs. Peterkinmistakenly adds salt to her tea instead of sugar. She’s unable to drinkit, so cannot leave the breakfast table. The entire family assists inpresenting solutions to the problem. They consult with the herb womanand the apothecary. Different substances are added to the tea, changingits color and flavor, but never with the result of its tasting like teawith milk and sugar.

The day wears on. Mrs. Peterkin becomesincreasingly distraught: she can’t leave the breakfast table becauseshe hasn’t had her tea; and the table can’t be set for dinner becausebreakfast isn’t over.

Finally someone thinks to ask the Lady from Philadelphia, who isknown for her great insight. And the Lady from Philadelphia says: "Whydoesn’t she make herself another cup of tea?" The Peterkins areastounded by her cleverness. Another cup of tea is made and duly drunkby Mrs. Peterkin, and all is well.

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