Many thanks to Brenda Dayne of Cast On, the penultimate* podcast for knitters. I submitted this piece to her and received such a positive response that I almost wept. It is really something to be recognized by one of the foremost knitters, writers, and podcasters this internet-world has seen. Go listen to her entire episode at Cast-On dot Com; you can hear my scratchy, melodramatic voice on Episode 32: Gwlana (Woolgathering).
*Commenter EvelynWood was kind enough to tell me the meaning of penultimate: next to last. Clearly, this is not what I thought it meant. I THOUGHT it meant extremely the bestest ever, and I am glad someone had the guts to tell me about my fox paws (faux pas). It is important to remain humbled in these events, and do the best one can to educate herself. Thanks, Miss Wood. I shall remember this word in the future, and use it correctly.A Sense of Place
For: Brenda Dayne's Cast-On Season Three
The summer has been cruel. The gardens in Atlanta have mopped over in submissive posture, and the daisies I planted a month ago are wilting in the terra cotta pot. There is simply not enough rain this summer; I mourn for the thirst of the flora. The heat is oppressive; it reeks of fossil fuel and Freon. A perpetual haze of industry and traffic hangs about the whole city and even up into the rural hills of North Georgia.
It is this horrid heat that keeps me indoors all day long. I step outside to water my plants or to run to my air conditioned car; otherwise, I am isolating myself from the tangible evidence of destruction humans wreak on the world. As I work from home, and call clients, and do the dishes or email friends, I become more and more alone. The house is quiet except for the whirr of the fan and the unction of the air conditioning unit. Inside my lonely sanctuary, I turn the coffee pot on and sip black brew in freezing air, willing the outdoor heat away. Summers were never meant to be lonely days. Summer used to be a time for swimming, long walks at the park, cocktail parties and cookouts. Now, summer is just a horribly long intermission between the gentler seasons.
And so, I remain trapped in this suburban heat, and surround myself with yarn. No summer weights for me, thank you. I work with fuzzy alpaca, softest wool, even cashmere. I work with the weights of fall and winter, of rosy cheeked children in autumn, snuggled in scarves and hats of warmth. I work these fibers as an incantation to myself: "It shall get cool, it shall get cool." In one summer, I've knitted three woolen hats, one mohair shawl, four or five scarves, and a vest. Of these items, only one is made of bright mercerized cotton. The rest lie about my home in shades of blue, the color of rain on a child's drawing, the color of coolness, and the color of water.
In the early morning, I sip my coffee and listen to the relaxing strings of Samuel Barber. Beneath the fan, I lay my project out on my lap and finger the fibers of the chilled seasons. As my needles click along with an adagio or sonata, I can no longer hear the air conditioning work, or see the haze of pollution hanging over this non-descript suburb of Atlanta. I am transported to a place of tallest oak trees and ochre leaves. I have disappeared into a realm of windy forests and brown landscapes--the landscapes of winter. So convinced of my fancy, I wrap a scarf about my neck and breathe into the knit, remembering the December chill of childhood, of robust laughter and white exhalations, clinging to the molecules of coldness.
I am most productive at knitting in the summer. Knitting is a prayer for the earth, for my town, for my neighbors. Knitting is at the heart of my concern for the environment; without the cold, we are without need for knits. Rather than this place shaping my knitting, I see that knitting shapes my place. It helps me remember this land is worth salvaging, the flora worth watering. So, perhaps, after I finish this row, I'll step outside and face the sun, and tell the still blanket of hot air to dissipate. Fall is on its way, and with fall will come the stockpiled scarves of summer.