Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poetry Wednesday, Vol. 106

Three Dog Night

In the old days, before houses were warm,
people did not sleep alone. Not even
widows went by themselves into

the cold sheets of night. Rooms were
lit with lanterns and children were
encouraged to jump on their beds,

warming themselves, before they
crawled inside. You might sleep with
your cousin or sister, your nose

buried in the summer of their
hair. You might place a baked potato
in your blanket to help it remember

warmth. A fire would be lit but, after
awhile, it would smolder down
to the bone silence of ash. Everything

was cold: the basin where you washed
your face, the wood floor, the windows
where you watched your breath

open over the framed blur of snow.
Your hands and feet were cold
and the trees were cold: naked,

traced in ice. You might take a dog
to bed or two or three, anything to lie
down with life, feel it breathing nearby.


So I've really been enjoying knitting.  You can find me at any free moment, needles in hand, making the newest project.  Right now I'm making a little shawl for the girls, pictured above.  The pattern I'm using is for a 2-4 year old, but I'm just making it bigger and longer and hoping it will work out.  Much like everything I do.  

One thing knitting is doing for me is helping me appreciate the work that went into being a woman many years ago, and for some even today.  For me, this little shawl is a leisurely project, something I do while I sit a the library while the boys are in their class.  I knit in the evenings while the husband and I sit on the couch watching a show.  Other than my impatience to get it done there is no sense of urgency to this knitting.  Nobody will be cold because I didn't finish the project.  For mothers in years past knitting was done, maybe in the evening, but it was done by the light of a fire, after she was done mending, cooking, butchering hogs, churning butter, weaving, burying a child, nursing another one sick with the pox, etc., etc.  If you didn't knit, there were no warm sweaters for winter, no warm socks.  

I can also understand, to a small degree, why children were beaten for ruining clothes.  If kids were lucky they had play clothes and church clothes.  What mother would not become just a little irate at the sight of a rip or stain in the nice church clothes she had just spent forty hours weaving/sewing/knitting?  I get crazy when I find a clean folded-up piece of laundry in the basket under a pee soaked pair of undies.  All I have to do is dump both in the washer.  I don't have to haul out a washtub, heat the water and scrub with the precious soap we made from our own rendered lye.  Ridiculous the amount of work it took to just live.

Knitting is soothing as I've already told you, but it also puts things in perspective.  It helps me remember that many of my problems are only small irritations.  Sometimes I wonder if it really is easier living with so much convenience.  The ease of my life allows me to think too much and make small irritations into gigantic problems.  What is wrong with working hard day in and day out, falling exhausted into bed in the evening?  You might get that day of rest and worship on Sunday, but I can assure you, that rest was probably as much work as my busiest days are now.  When you are busy you don't have time to think, only to do.  I know there are problems with that as well, but right now I think too much.  Right now I need to just do.  I need to knit while praying, knit while loving on my family, knit.  I need to understand that my work as a mother is important to my family, just as it was to families in the past.  Sure, my shawl isn't the only thing covering my little girl's backs, but my physical work takes care of their needs and their hearts.  My willingness to do the many little daily tasks to care for my family is a form of worship.  My faithfulness to their needs, even if it doesn't involve shearing the sheep and making the wool for each sweater is as important now as it was then.  My work shows them love, even the less essential work of knitting.    

Work, Worship, Pray, Do.


If you have a poem you would like to share, we would love to read it!  Just link on up.


Beth Hanna said...

Amen! You write so beautifully! You don't really even need a poem! I can remember the days (on the ONE year I spent in the cold north as a child), sleeping with cousin, sister, to just keep warm! And that wasn't even the "old" days!! Really! Beautiful poem and beautiful comments! Keep up the fantastic work you're doing!

amber said...

This poem reminds me of my childhood--in the years after my dad disconnected the furnace to save money and we heated our home by woodstove. We had electric blankets, yes, so there was no need to snuggle with my snoring sister--but the cold mornings when we had to get dressed. Ugh. We would grab our clothes (set out in the relative warmth the night before) and run downstairs to the woodstove (hopefully already lit) and put our clothes on the stove. Then we would run back to bed for a few minutes while the clothes warmed. We would dress there in the kitchen, huddled by the stove, wishing it was summer.

I love knitting. And it's a luxury now to handknit things--what a joyful luxury.

tricia said...

Well, my friend, your talents never cease. Your writing is as beautiful as you are :-)

And by the way, tomorrow you'll be teaching me how to make a shawl!

Can't wait,

Beth said...

Just lovely Kris, thank you.

And so jealous of the knitting. I don't know how of course but wish I did. Peace and goodness to you.