This time of year is always such a rush of activity. When you live anywhere where winter is more lion than lamb, it kind of has to be. Here in Wisconsin, winter is usually frigid & snowy, so all the chores that need to happen outside really need to happen before the snow flies. The furnace needs to be tested (and in our case repaired). The gutters need to be cleaned. The leaves need to be raked (or blown down the street by the freakish winds). The garden beds need to have that last weeding & sometimes, I put them to bed under a blanket of leaves. The lawn needs to be mowed that one or two last times and the sidewalks need a good edging to make shoveling snow easier. Firewood needs to be moved into the boathouse. And the centipedes and spiders in the basement are finally hiding enough (and slow enough) that they mostly don’t send me retreating for the bug-free main floor when I try to clean. The list sometimes feels long. And yet, it always gets done… eventually usually in a rush once the temps noticeably drop.
This last week & weekend were comprised largely of this rush. I rediscovered that a kiddie pool is the very best way to haul leaves from the backyard to the curb. And that vacuuming the cobwebs in the basement really doesn’t take all that long if I just suck it up (did you see what I did there? LOL) and get it done. And weeding the West flowerbed that wound up full of horribly prickly weeds wasn’t that bad with my deerskin gloves on. I even managed to clean the bird feeders — a long overdue task — and got the kids to help as part of the first lesson of their bird/Project Feederwatch unit for school.
For some reason, doing these seasonal tasks always makes me reminisce about years past. In the same house, doing these same chores, just as a younger version of me with fewer grey hairs and wrinkles. I think of my kids as little ones. Our first dog together whom we lost this time of year, a few years ago already. I think of a fitter version of me and what it was like to live without chronic pain in my bum hip. I also remember how possible everything seemed. Every job was a challenge, not a chore. Every adventure was exhilarating, not terrifying. And things just always worked out.
I’m not quite sure why, but over the years I feel as thought I’ve gotten exceptionally good at seeing everything that could possibly go wrong in every endeavor. Sometimes, I am not my best self. I am not everything I could, or should, be. I get cranky and unreasonable when out of my comfort zone and far too often, I see obstacles when I should see opportunities. I think it’s easy to do as we get older, that desire to be safe and hold tight to the people & things dear to us. I want to be careful not to hike too far lest I render myself unable to walk. I avoid canoeing in spring and fall because once in late September I fell in and was really cold. I know my family & I do a lot of great adventures, but there are times when I have a sinking in my heart that tells me I could and should be doing better by them.
Just this week, we were talking about taking the kids camping for a night. It would be cold, but we know of some shelters in the area that would make it do-able and somehow I managed to rain on those plans, too. We are short one cold weather sleeping bag and my husband would have to improvise, with my walking options limited I worried I’d be frozen if I had to sit still, I wanted to be sure to squeeze in a kids’ math lesson before going, our washing machine is dying a slow and painful death (we’ll be adopting my parents’ old washer, but we are waiting for the timing to work out to make the move) so in the meantime it requires very small loads and the idea of getting behind on this chore is awful, and the East side of the eaves needs to be painted before it gets seriously cold. I don’t mean to, but this has kind of become what I do. Not always, but often when it comes to any adventure longer than a day trip, all I see is my to-do list and I just leech the life out of some really awesome potential. It. is. awful.
Through some emotional tears after officially abandoning the camping plans this morning, I was trying to compose myself enough to get school going for the kids. What has changed that makes it so easy to let all the things that could go wrong eclipse all the great things that will probably go right?
As I gazed out the window through those tears of disappointment for what I’d done yet again, I noticed some yarn sitting nearby from my weekend projects.
Having started the third and final hat for my Craftsy class — New Directions in Lace: Hats — yesterday, after a couple hours of work (and denial), it became readily apparent that the Sundara Aran Merino I thought was in my stash was actually Sundara Spot Merino Two. As an aside, try not to lose the tag for your yarn — having that information is handy – lol! Out came the ball winder and out came those stitches that weren’t meant to be. I went to my stash and pulled a skein of Plucky Knitter Primo Aran and wound it into a center-pull ball. My pretty emerald colored hat replaced with a squishy grey one, it came to my attention that my mystery emerald Sundara skein would be perfect for the Air Quotes Socks pattern I’ve been lusting after. I have a pretty amazing stash these days, but I’m short on solid colored sport weight yarn appropriate for socks. This… well, this might do just fine.
This whole episode — having the yarn not work out, having to frog all that work, and finding a new skein — didn’t phase me at all. I accept these things in knitting without hesitation. When I see a skein of yarn, I never see all the mistakes I might make. In fact, I couldn’t care less if I make a million mistakes. I can fix them, or frog them, or just leave them be. Yarn is just potential, possibilities, and I know it will always work out. So apparently, there’s still a little bit of that younger me in there somewhere. I still have the ability to to feel like anything is possible. Every job can still be a challenge, not a chore. Every adventure can still be exhilarating, not terrifying. And things will probably still tend to work out. If I can do it in my knitting, I can do it in my life, right? A little shift in perception and perspective, a little less worry, a lot more letting go, and much more of the seeing opportunities instead of obstacles. A lot more of my best self for my sake as well as my family’s. If I can bring it to my knitting, I can certainly bring it to my life.