A Cleansing Breath for Mother Culture
Those who have undergone physical therapy know that between exercises it is advisable to take a deep “cleansing breath.” Remembering to stop to take a cleansing breath among complex responsibilities is a principle I’ve carried over into Mother Culture - both literally and figuratively.
Several weeks ago our 1997 American-made car was equipped with a new transmission. “They don’t make cars like this anymore,” I was told. I believe it. I am a trusting wife - generally. Feeling something like what the owners of a new car must feel, Dean and I filled the trunk with provisions. It held a weighty ice chest of local produce, homemade raison cookies, farm eggs, the big camera, two suitcases of holiday clothes, suntan lotion, straw hats, sundry books and (I didn’t forget) yarn. With the packing complete we set off on a few days vacation on the Jersey shore. My parents live in a bungalow a block from the ocean.
Dean and I do not travel lightly. In the heat of the glaring sun we (Dean mostly) walked back and forth unpacking the trunk, armload after armload. Mom and Dad’s neat little bungalow was quickly transformed into a house of stuff. Normally, during our short visits I try to conceal our stuff in assorted baskets. Alas, it still looks out-of-place.
Glad to see us Mom and Dad graciously overlooked our clutter - as always. Then we settled down to a good long chat. A sea breeze drifted through the windows cooling our brows as we unraveled the details of our lives. We tossed in all the family news we could think of for good measure.
In the mornings I put on a vintage (sounds nicer than outdated) Laura Ashley dress for a quiet walk at low tide. Here I took a cleansing breath – a whole series of slow deep breaths this time – of salty sea air. It was windy yet invigorating.
A flowery dress at the seashore fulfills a romantic notion of mine.
The yellow dress with the coral flowers and the shawl collar has a string of memories attached to it because it was purchased twenty years ago. A first violin recital, a home school graduation and a speaking engagement are a few memories that stand out.
The mostly orange dress here and at the start of the post is one Dean bid for me on e-bay last year. The cost was quite reasonable. I’ve only started making memories in this one.
We walk up the beach in silence, but in harmony, as the sandpipers ahead of us move like a corps of ballet dancers keeping time to some interior rhythm inaudible to us. . . Emotions are carried out to sea. (From Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea chap. 6, page 101 in my grandmother’s copy handed down to me.)
From my beach bag I placed a child’s cotton sweater at the edge of the dune grass. It’s a pleasure sharing my knitting with you.
Dean, who uses his camera more intelligently than I, and wanted to protect the lens from windblown sand, took the photographs for me. It was nice to have his help - although I’ve learned to save knitting as a subject of conversation for those more readily inclined.
The variegated blues and wavy wool cables of this size-two cardigan make it at home at the seashore. I had fun knitting it from a pattern by Yankee Designs. Can you see the little wishbone cables one stitch in width? They remind me of horseshoe crabs in this setting. Seed stitch and blackberry stitch are placed between the fisherman ropes.
While braver souls - at least half our age - were going in deeper, we faced the breaking surf our own way. We were jostled by the foamy undertow. How refreshing the water was – even if somewhat wearing. Returning to our umbrella the cameraman was smiling. He was satisfied that, yes, his wife now drenched in seawater, was indeed having a good time.
Next came the relaxing moment I had been anticipating. I took out of my beach bag the beginnings of another little sweater. Its stitches were cast on at home, a week prior with the hope of spending an hour of knitting bliss in the shade of a beach umbrella - the ocean before me. Involuntarily, I sighed after my second row. Then I remembered. I closed my eyes and took a slow cleansing breath. Gratitude inhabited the pause.
For body and soul, in your everyday, will you remember to literally take a cleansing breath now and again? Also for your Mother Culture I hope you will consider taking one figuratively - in whatever way you come up with. No doubt it is fast becoming a busy school year.
After a bath Baby is happy when wrapped in the green blanket Mommy knit for him.
She only knits when expecting. That’s okay. Another knitter is keeping an eye on domestic supply-and-demand.
Blessings to you
Not for knitters only,