Sunday, March 15, 2015

More Spring - and reflections on hand-made

Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:24:21 PM

Addendum to the whole spring thing: We can see more of our roads and even some ground off the side of the road now. I swear, it felt for a while like we were going to be like the MacKenzie Pass in Oregon - the roads might open in late May but surely by June! So much has melted, I can see stuff I haven't seen in it feels like months! We still have giant heaps on the roadsides and at the edges of parking lots. And it is still very much in the way - blocking visibility when entering the local highways.

On home-made stuff. The past few winters have seen me using the same mittens Mom knitted for me some 45 years ago. Inside their buckskin outer mitts, they are still the warmest handwear I have in the winter - better than fancy modern insulated ski gloves. There is something special for me in hand-made stuff, especially when it was made as a gift. In the case of these mittens, tho, in spite of their age, they are still the best thing going. In addition to being beautiful. It helps that they spent most of the intervening years in storage - they weren't much needed in most of the places I've lived since leaving home so many years ago. It is really rather amazing, I think, that I even still have them. I don't think most people would have held on to these that long - and I even lost track of them more than once. Fortunately they always turned up again.

The mittens are not the only hand-made thing I've been enjoying the past couple years. There is my "Thank You" coffee travel mug. It is an obviously hand painted ceramic travel mug, with stars, flowers and a large "Thank You!, Thank You!" hand painted on the handle. It wasn't made for me - and whoever was the intended recipient never used it. I "inherited" it via the recycling table at our transfer station (recycling and garbage depot). I love the obvious effort that went into this mug - and it cheers me to use it!

And then, there is the "rescue" blanket project I recently did. For many years I have had a handmade woolen poncho/blanket I bought in Guatemala on a long-ago vacation. It is not all that beautiful or anything - and it is standard tourist purchase stuff. But the yarn is quite obviously hand spun, and the poncho was obviously hand woven, and it is wool. Which all means it is a lovely bit of fabric, if you can appreciate it for what it is. The problem, for me, is that it is poncho-sized - about 5 feet square. Meaning it wasn't much good for anything I could use it for. It is overly light in weight for a rug. It is too small to use as a blanket. It is not attractive enough to use as a wall-hanging. So it has hung around for years, only occasionally getting used as a tv blanket - or sometimes as a coverlet.

But recently, at that same transfer station recycling table, I saw a light weight woolen blanket, made of mostly a natural white, undyed wool. It had seen some use, and had some spots that were unraveling from wear. And it had pastel borders - not colors that would recommend  the thing to me. However, I thought maybe I could use the good fabric, and 'rescue' the Guatemalan poncho! I tossed the blanket in the freezer for a couple of weeks to kill any moth larvae, should it have any. Then I cut it into large sections, which I pieced on to the Guatemalan poncho, and voila! I have a regular blanket sized thing now! So it is getting used on a regular basis. Blanket rescue!

I taste the air, and it feels like spring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 6:45:34 AM

I taste the air, and it feels like spring.

I open the kitchen door to let a dog out. It is cold outside, but it feels - different. It is not like the feeling of impending snow, or of winter's colder temperatures. It is filled with promise, and comfort. And I leave the door open to let in fresh air for the first time in, oh, I don't know, it feels like it has been months!

I've been opening the door only far enough for the dog or cat to get outside. And if they did not move fast enough, I either closed the door, or scooted them along with my foot to hurry them up. I love fresh air, and our windows usually stay partly open, even in cold weather. Just a crack when it gets cold, but just a little for fresh air. Not this winter. We've closed them up tight this year.

But spring is the topic! I opened the door, and tasted the air, and felt the air, and looked around, and I could feel the beginnings of comfortable! It is a magical, exciting, promising feeling. I love spring. It is my favorite season. Now, spring is nice everywhere, but in most sections of the country it is nice, whilst the magic is not so strong. In New England, though, spring is especially exciting and promising. And it was experiencing spring, up here, that gave spring the special meaning it has to me. Most folks would pick summer, fall, or winter as their favorite season. My pick is spring.

I do not know exactly what it is that creates the feeling of spring. Whether it is the quality of the light, the humidity levels, the temperature, a scent on the air, the sounds of the wild critters moving about, or the sound of water, I do not know. It might be it is all of them together.

It could be longer days. Except the days have been getting longer for more than two months, and we've yet been deep in the grips of winter. I knew the promise was there - every morning the light came a little earlier - and I love that. I love waking up with the light.

It could be that there was humidity in the air, except it gets more humid when snow is coming, also, and that does not signify spring! The temperatures has gone up a bit, and that certainly contributes to the feeling of the air! I don't think it is the scent of anything yet, there is nothing I can see quickening and greening, and the sap is not yet flowing in the trees - although it should be soon.

The sounds of the wild critters definitely ups the mood ante. The birds are singing more. I heard the hoot owls getting all crazy just a couple of nights ago: "whoo-ho, hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo". I could hear at least a half dozen "whoo"-ing at each other near our house. The squirrels are back raiding the bird feeders - and looking scrawny, too. I'll be giving them a little extra discouragement soon enough.

But there is one more thing that adds to the feeling in the air - that creates the intuitive knowledge in my body that spring has begun: the sound of water. In winter there is silence. Yes, the birds sing, footsteps on the snow squeak and crunch, but otherwise, the world is muffled and silent. There is no rustling of leaves, no scurrying of creatures, not tiny, small, medium, nor large. But now the creatures are sometimes about, and I can hear water.

Water and I have developed a special relationship in my life. You could say I have an affinity with running, living waters. Being close to these waters has always done something extra for my soul. It very much like having enough daylight - too many grey days seriously depress me. And, of course, now science tells us that the sound of running water DOES do good things for us psychologically. Whatever, I learned it was an important and special thing as a youngster, when I was living with the ocean on one side, and the intracoastal waterway (a series of estuaries on the Atlantic coast of Florida, for those who've not lived there) on the other. A few years later, when I moved to New England, there was springtime, and the return of the sounds of water.

It is dripping from the eaves. The icicles are melting, and falling off the roof. Roads, paths and driveways are clearing. There are streams and rivulets on every hill. Which is everywhere around here. And you can hear them all. Spring in the Columbia River basin has this effect in spades - with waterfalls everywhere and rainbows and mist to go along with it. But the sounds of running water helps make spring in our northeast special.

There you have it. Springtime is special. Some people get flowers, some get rain. Some people get a cessation of rain (think Pacific Northwest)! Here, it starts with the melting of the snow, the singing of the birds, and a feeling of the air.

I left the door open, until it got quite chilly inside the kitchen. It felt good.