Monday, January 10, 2011

Close Knit Community

In Birdland the sky is gray and the snow is spilling down again. The last cycle of snow and melt and re-freeze had left us with a bare yard and only the grays and tawny browns of a winter landscape. The fields and garden are dry, as if the freeze has squeezed out all the moisture. Yesterday I noticed the hackberries scattered all over the ground like currents in a bun. Did the wind shake them down, or did the trees just let go with the cold?

Now a flurry will add another layer to the wintertime landscape. The sky is leaden as far as I can see to the West, and it’s cold but not windy, so I expect by noon we’ll have a nice frosting on all the fences and a blanket for the yard.

Today I am rushing to get my work done because of two important visits. This afternoon is my knitting circle at the Steeple Gallery Coffee House—a weekly gathering of wonderfully creative and fun women who meet to knit and share and visit and drink coffee. It convenes on Fridays, so I can only come during semester breaks, making today’s visit even more special for its rarity. I’ve got a finished project to show—a felted knitting needle holder that I copied from Susan. But I need some advice, because my washing machine doesn’t agitate, which is necessary for the felting process. Mine is pretty, but not quite felted, and it doesn’t like to stand up on its own. Should I just wash it about twenty more times, or try to felt it by hand, or ask Susan to agitate it for me in her washer? When I told Barbara about the flower I was going to knit for a decoration, she dug up a crocheted flower she had cut off of an old sweater and gave it to me. Now when I look at my project, I think of my connections to both of these lovely women—something to be glad of in the gray days of winter.

The second visit is from some of my nieces and nephews. Once in awhile they converge at

Birdland for a holiday. Some are home from college; some are already back at high school. I like to bake for them. I’ve got cookies already made, and plans for pizza and scones, waffles for breakfast.

They are busy young people, and they won’t all be here, but I am grateful for any who can spare the time. They come to get out to the country and away from their routines, and though I know they love me, they come more to visit with each other. I’m happy to provide this venue and mostly stay out of the way. They energize me, and give me an excuse to get the house clean, make up the guest beds, and pull out the board games and the ping-pong table. Ellis will be glad for their company. My youngest is the last little bird in the nest, and he loves to hang out with his cousins.

The snow continues to fall in tight, tiny crystals that collect first in the packed down places in the yard, showing me where the dogs have trotted out a new path around to the side of the house where I’ve plugged in their wintertime water bowl.

They also have one to the edge of the field where they go to bark at the coyotes whose commute takes them down our grass waterway every morning. The sky is now a bright white in the West, and the snow is falling faster, with bigger, fluffy flakes. It’s time for me to get to my baking and cleaning, my preparations to receive my guests.

Believe in Beauty; Dwell in Peace; Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She cherishes family and community and any excuse for a gathering.

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