With a year of plague-induced seclusion under our belts, we are ready to start venturing out. We are still patiently waiting to be vaccinated, however. Just today, Maine extended vaccination availability to those under 70, so we are hoping to be jabbed before the month is out. Although we are eager to see our family again and to savor the pleasures of eating inside a restaurant, moseying around stores, and browsing through the library, our year at home has been productive, creative, and satisfying. And it has changed us.
I have an even deeper appreciation of the life we have created here, shed layers of stress, embraced my reclusive nature, and have less itch to travel. I have become far more attuned to the weather and the seasons, to the point of following the sun as it tracks across the room—morning weaving at the big loom in full southern sun,
midday weaving tapes and spinning wool as the sun hits the eastern side of the room,
and afternoons at the flax wheel, which sits in the western dormer. It will be interesting to see what long-term behavioral changes come out of this upside-down year.
Our weather these past three months has been as unsettled as the political scene (my fear that our democracy might not survive this year turned out to be well-founded—but we did squeak by).
We have had a few snow dumps—which make the dogs crazy with joy—
followed by melting back to bare ground.
We had one spectacular ice storm,
some frigid patches,
and lots and lots of high wind.
A December wind even blew the outdoor shower off its foundation.
It is well-secured now.
Christmas was quiet, but lovely.
With the cold weather, George moved his projects indoors.
When we had our garage built, the plan was for George to use one bay for a woodworking shop. He finally had the time to get it fully up and running this winter.
He made a bookcase for the bedroom,
installed an additional shelf in my loom room,
and has been working on my spinning wheels, including making a curvaceous treadle for the pendulum wheel
and fixing the wooden axle on this more-than-200-year-old bobbin winder.
For me, winter means spinning and weaving.
I finished a small coverlet that had been in the works for years. It started with a lustrous Nash Island fleece that I brought home and washed two summers ago.
I spun it last winter and spring and dyed the yarn late last summer with madder, woad, and Japanese indigo from my dye garden, and goldenrod, which grows wild here.
The final step was picking a traditional coverlet design—pine cone blossom, also called pine burr—and the actual weaving.
I have also been weaving more fabric for clothes,
and doing lots of spinning—wool and flax.
I have added a few wheels to my collection, but do not have them yet. They are being fostered with other wheel collectors until we can really start traveling again. I am fostering several wheels for others, too, so there is going to be a lot of wheel railroading going on this spring.
As if my wheel collecting is not enough, I discovered the world of Conder tokens recently. A weaver posted a photo of one on Instagram and I was instantly intrigued—a graphic piece of history captured in a coin.
Because of a scarcity of small denomination coins in the late 1700s due to increasing industrialization and population growth in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, business owners, merchants, and local governments started minting their own.
They are often intricately designed, representing local industries and trades,
anti-slavery pleas, and political satire. I have collected a few of the textile related designs and one political one, which I will be using as weights on orifice hooks for my spinning wheels.
We are still eating food that we put by from the garden—we have enough winter squash, frozen and dehydrated vegetables and herbs, tomato sauce, carrots, and ginger to last until spring.
In fact, we had so many pumpkins and winter squash that we donated them to a local farmer friend for her pigs. Sadly, we had to give up on greenhouse greens this winter, because the mice kept devouring them. We have not had any signs of mice in the greenhouse for the last six weeks, though, so I planted seeds for spring greens. We will keep the traps well peanut-buttered, spread the minty mouse deterrent, and keep fingers crossed.
Pruning and outside spring chores are just around the corner.
The mourning doves are coo-cooing, foxes are barking and looking for places to den,
and I put wool on my apple branches in hopes of keeping the spring-hungry deer from nibbling the shoots.
In the meantime, we are enjoying the final month or so of hunkering-down, while planning our reemergence into society.