Fingerless glove

looking for what's missing... I'm a knitting, spinning, mother of teenagers with a big dog, a small cat, minus the lovely rabbit Meliflua.

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Location: Virginia, United States

Right now I'm listening to "An Irish Country Village" by Patrick Taylor, reading "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" by Anna Quindlen and knitting Wisconsin Wintersocks. And casting off the lace shawl I've been working on since I last posted.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rerun

When I was a little girl, we regularly piled into the car just to “go for a drive.” With today’s gasoline prices this seems extravagant, but at 23 cents per gallon, it was affordable entertainment. More times than not, we wound up six miles out of town at my grandparents’ farm. While the adults visited inside, we smaller fry entertained ourselves playing with the piglets or picking up hickory nuts in the pasture, always giving a wide berth to The Bull. (He would later supply many suppers, but I never connected the fierce creature reigning under the apple tree with the pot roast in the oven.)

When the visit was winding down, Grandma and Mom would wander toward the car, carrying a jar of watermelon pickles, stopping to admire Grandma’s flowers, picking strawberries or cucumbers for us to ferry home. Best of all were the times Grandma led us through the narrow, slatted door at one corner of the barn and up the steep steps to her “studio” to examine her latest painting. The studio was a small attic room tucked under the barn roof over the pig-pen. The steps were terrifyingly steep, worn and narrow, hardly more than a ladder. The pitch of the roof required an adult to stoop when standing anywhere but directly under the ridgeline. It had bare beams, a round east-facing window and a linoleum “rug.” I don’t remember it smelling of livestock; I remember climbing up into the wonderful smell of heat and turpentine and oil paint. In spite of my fear of the stairway, I loved this place. I loved it for what it was: Grandma’s take on Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own.” This was Lucille’s special place, where she ceased to be farm wife, mother of 6, or grandmother, and became the artist I cherished. Here she did her own thing, unleashed her creativity.

Although I learned most of my knitting skills from books, I credit my grandma with teaching me to knit, certainly for the time she spent at my side, but far more for the example she set. She taught her daughter in the 1930’s – years before women’s lib – that a girl could do anything as well as a boy and some things better. This woman knit, crocheted, pickled, gardened, painted, sewed, built a tipi, and recognized bird calls during a life that was sometimes hard and spare. The knitters I know carry on this drive to create. To borrow a phrase from Franklin Habit’s June 17th blog post (the-panopticon.blogspot.com): we have a “desire to create beauty every day when most of civilization does nothing from cradle to grave but consume, consume, consume."

We might have to look for unorthodox solutions -- that attic room over the pig-pen -- to carve out space or time for our souls, but creativity is what keeps us balanced.