When there is snow on the ground, even a cloudy day can feel bright. It is one of the things I love the most about winter. A summer woods is dark, close and deep. A winter woods is full of light. It is a study of long strong shadows, dark and bright, drawn in light.
The past few weeks, we found ourselves near enough to the ocean to be able to take walks on the winter beach. Some of the beaches we walked for the first time. I find it hard to imagine that these long wild stretches have escaped me all these years. There were magical days when the snow covered much of the beach and the ocean foam froze into a whipped cream edge to the sea. Rocks wore crowns of ice.
On another day, we were caught in a snow storm, and watched the snow settle onto the sand and sea birds backs. Last week, we walked by endless snow fences, placed to hold the sand back from its endless journey to somewhere else.
The birds tell me the back of winter has broken. (The relentless howling wind that brought -4F temps this morning did little to reinforce that.) The calendar agrees. We’ve taken to working on the wet, snowy or days too cold to manage. When the sun shines bright, I pack a lunch and we head out for an adventure. Winter will be gone before we know it. You know what comes then?
My socks are so comfortably lovely..”
Donovan P. Leitch
From: I love my Shirt.
If you’re old enough to remember Donovan, the Scottish heart throb, musician, composer who wrote ‘Sunshine Superman’ and ‘Mellow Yellow’, you may also remember another of his, ‘I love my Shirt’. If you do remember it and have read the lines above, you probably have today’s earworm already playing in your head. (You’re welcome.) Those of you who are too young and missed the 60s and 70s, check him out. I bet you’ll find a song or two that you know. Donovan’s early album covers featured psychedelic writing, which I am certain gave rise many years later to the colorful, inventive graffiti that we now see spray painted on railroad cars, abandoned buildings and underpass walls.
I’ve strayed. This post isn’t about music or graffiti. It is about socks. My socks.
As a knitter and a dyer, I have bought and hand dyed thousands of pounds of sock yarn. So, I’ve knit my share of socks. Frankly, sock knitting doesn’t do it for me. There are parts of sock knitting that I enjoy, like turning a heel, or grafting the toes. But, I’d rather knit a sweater, or a shawl, or hat. There’s a lot to be said for the fit and beauty of hand knit socks. I happen to like store bought socks better. Particularly, Costco’s wool socks. They fit me perfectly. The problem I have, with all wool socks, is that I wear them out very quickly. Impossible as it sounds, I’ve gone through a sock in a day. I really don’t like to throw otherwise perfectly good socks away. A couple years ago, the piles of single socks sporting holes, began to take over my sock drawer. I was faced with a real dilemma, either start wearing mismatched singles everyday, throw away both socks in the pair, or learn to fix them. That’s when I began to darn socks.
If I told you that darning is not only sort of fun and relaxing but also provides nearly instant gratification, would you believe me? In less than a television show worth of time, my sock can not only be put back into service, but can be embellished with as many colorful circles, squares, or squiggles as I care to make. Visible only when stacked in my sock drawer, the little darned patches are my secret, hidden in my shoes, and enjoyed while I fold the laundry.
That brings me to my new to me contraption. Around the Christmas holiday season , I chanced upon a photo of a small metal darning loom. It was made in the fifties, in Ukraine. The genius of it astounded me. I absolutely needed it. Ebay produced several on auction. From England, one with a wood disk was going for nearly 125.00. I could buy an awful lot of socks for that price. The few from Ukraine were priced a bit better. I set my limit and bid. Each time my limit was passed. Over the next couple weeks, I checked for others. Then, three showed up from the same seller in Russia. Unlike all the others I’d seen that had wooden disks, one had a lovely swirled plastic disk to attach as the darning mushroom. It was beautiful and It was totally unique. It is mine now. I’ve thought about this purchase and it’s journey. Imagine, something made in the 50s, maybe 60’s, used to darn someone’s socks, maybe generations of someone’s socks, in Russia, stored in a sewing basket, or maybe a cookie tin on a shelf or under a bed. Imagine that someone’s granddaughter finds it and wonders what it is or why anyone would bother to use such a thing. Then imagine that someone thinks to sell it instead of tossing it away, and that I see it for sale, halfway around the world and want it. Really want it. It gets packed better than any package I’ve ever received and travels through bureaucracies, by how many people, in how many ways until it reaches me. And, finally, last night, it once again, was used to darn my sock.
and then there were two..
It was a beautiful but chilly weekend with temps topping at 26F. I spent most of it outdoors. I took walks in the woods, stacked two weeks worth of firewood on the porch and scouted out the beaver ‘lodge’. We made pizza on the grill.
Friday we prepped the ice for a Saturday game with friends. Mother Nature had other plans. By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, the ice had magically acquired a very slick new surface, making it impossible to stay upright.
If you haven’t watched Bridgerton, the costumes are amazing!
It’s not the end of the day, I fear what is still to come. It has already lead us to a place that I can only hope is the bottom from which we’ll begin to climb.
But.. I’ve promised myself to focus only on what has been going on here, in my neck of the woods.
Last year, almost as a joke, we started shoveling an area of the pond to be our bocce court. Bocce on ice has very few rules. Stay on the ice, The closest balls of one color to the pig get points. Play until you are tired of it. The court is as big as I can shovel, usually in the 20 x 60 ft range, but whatever. It changes as we ‘clean up the edges’.
Sunday, because we had invited friends to come play, we decided to check the thickness of the ice. A four inch deep hole was drilled using a 1/2” bit. All good. Except.. water began to bubble up from the hole, faster and faster, until one end of the court was covered. By the next morning (no, we didn’t play), the entire court was flooded from this tiny hole and it was breaching the snow pile sides.
This morning I walked down, looks frozen to me. I’m baffled as to why that happened. I’ve always believed that there was an air layer under the ice. This was water under pressure. So far friends have weighed in with, ‘the ice layer dropped’, ‘there was a gravitational shift’, ‘full moon tide’, there’s to much water in the pond’ and my own, the beaver did it. Any ideas?
Today is the day I begin to wonder if I should take down my little decorated tree. Once again, I’m thinking of leaving it up, with only birds and lights until we start forgetting it is there. The days may be getting longer, but it is pretty hard to tell. Sparkling lights are pretty nice on a dark night. Knitting the little birds has been a lot of fun. I’m not done with them yet. It surprised me that I didn’t have many little balls of leftover dk yarn and none in bright colors. How can it possibly be that I’m almost out of yarn. Me..?
So, be kind and remember that we are all in this together. Let’s hope we can hold ourselves together as a country, get everyone vaccinated and come to our senses. And, let’s not stop there. I think a glass of wine is in order.