We are having the most astonishing fall — and I am back to talk about Making Things.
I finally seem to be in a creative space again, and have established a routine that I think is going to get me over the hump with the Book That Refuses To Be Written. I’ve been entirely stuck on a couple of topics, and with a 4 days at work/3 days to write schedule, I find that it’s late Sunday before I’m making any headway again. It’s been a problem.
One of my recent discoveries is the absolutely delightful Felicity Ford at the Domestic Soundscape and the Knitsonik podcast. I’ve been gorging on the podcasts. I ordered her book. I’m on the verge of cyber-stalking her because she is SO delightful, and because her combination of thoughts on domestic life, attention to sound, and the notion that we can translate the landscapes in which we live into knitted objects has blown my mind these past couple of weeks. It’s feels like this combination of ideas has blasted open the stuck door of everything I’ve been stymied by on this book of mine.
Those of you who are still here have not only my undying gratitude, but are probably the 12 people on earth who understand that all the making — all the cooking and canning and learning to sew again and my clumsy-but-earnest knitting — all those practices are what have saved me in the wake of Patrick’s death.
The anniversary of which was a couple of weeks ago. It’s been twelve years. Which seems astonishing to me. It seems like always, and yesterday at the same time. I have this loopy and probably romanticized idea about string theory — I think it’s my substitution for the idea of heaven, with which I really have no truck — but I like the idea of string theory. That Patrick’s still out there — he’s just on a different plane, a different time and space string. At any rate, twelve years. My Lily, who I carried around on my hip as a toddler in fairy wings at the wake, is now tall enough to rest her chin on my head, and is cooking in a restaurant in LA. A lifetime.
When Patrick died, my biggest terror was being caught in the whirlpool of depression that I believe was largely the cause of his death, and the death of my beloved Aunt Lynn, and has done such damage to my mother over the decades. I started making things because that first spring, as I was starting seedlings in my mud room, I thought “depressed people don’t start gardens.” I make things because it brings order to my world, and joy, and because I love the things I make. I love wearing my own clothes — clothes that fit, and that make me feel happy in my skin. I keep a garden and chickens because these are activities that keep me connected to the earth and the weather and the seasons, and that provide me with food through our long cold Montana winters and cushion the blow when corporate layoffs blow through my world.
Hank and I have been walking this stretch of spring creek along the Yellowstone mornings, and most evenings for the better part of the year. We’ve watched it go from snowy, to greening up last spring, to this fall moving through the entire color spectrum of green to yellow to gold to russet — all with blue sky and water to frame it. It is unutterably beautiful. More than once we’ve gotten back to the car, which is parked on a little pullout from the main highway, only to find another car or truck pulled over, the driver taking photos, or just gazing at the view. It has been stupendous.
And I am now waiting with toe-tapping impatience for Felicity’s book to arrive from the UK, so I can begin figuring out how to match colors, and knit up a swatch, and perhaps make myself a garment that I can wear that will represent the joy this riverbottom, and by extension the Paradise Valley, and by further extension, this life I’ve built here in the wake of a disaster I could not envision surviving have brought me. Because my life is joyful these days. Even if I haven’t had a book in 15 years, what I have had is a life.
The discovery of this group of artists out there, working in domestic crafts and landscape, and place has me more excited than anything else I can remember. This is what I’m trying to do in this book I keep wrestling with — to link the landscape and the people and the things we make to the task of right livelihood — which is not a consumerist one of simply curating a lifestyle — but rather is a bigger, richer project of creating art and community — and of surviving the inevitable losses that come with any life. Losing Patrick nearly killed me, but with any luck, we’re all going to have to survive the loss of our beloved ones (I’d still rather be the bereaved than the dead). It’s one of the core tasks of adulthood, and the entire firehose of contemporary consumer culture is designed to distract us from the task of experiencing it. One reason I value craft so much is that it forces you to slow the fuck down. Sewing, knitting, cooking, gardening — they all force us to attend to the physical realities around us, to pay attention.
And so, I’ll be back, blogging some about these ideas I’m trying to put into a bigger context, thinking out loud over here in my tiny corner of the intertubes.
And to celebrate, here’s one more gorgeous dog walk photo: