Wednesday, December 14, 2016
"It's very cold today with a fierce wind blowing drifts of snow across the country roads. I've been outside a couple of times in my parka, wearing a cap my father crocheted about thirty years ago. It looks like a standard stocking cap, but the brim has been rolled up and sewn to the crown so you can't unroll it over your ears, and there's an odd little ridge that runs from front to back that helps it fold flat like a purse. It may have started out to be a purse. I suspect he discovered its probable use as he knotted along. He'd recently retired from his job as a department store manager and was trying to find things to do with his hands. He made two of these caps, this white one and one in brown, and then went on to something else. I've forgotten what that was.
Though you can't see the strand of sentiment I've threaded through the turned up edge, it's there all right, tying the present up against the past with the strength of piano wire or catgut. And this cap keeps warm a head that holds a vivid picture of my father sitting in his chair with the floor lamp pulled close, busy making this cap or purse or pocket or whatever it seemed at first to be.
Mind you, not making a cap for me, but for something for himself. He's making it so as to learn from making it. He's accepting a gift he's giving himself. Only later will it occur to him to present it to me, pretending he'd been thinking of me all along. But I don't mind; to make a cap, a sock, or mitten - to take a ball of dime store yarn and knit or crochet it into some useful thing - is an act of generosity. Someone is all the warmer for its presence in the world.
Bound in an ill-fitting sweater knitted by an aunt, or squeezed into a handmade shirt whose collar points are tapered long and out of fashion, you can speed straight in to the past, lit by a floor lamp with a yellow shade. There must be stocking caps all over the world that, when you pull them on, sweep you to another time.
There ought to be an annual holiday for the celebration of things like my cap. We could wear handmade clothes and parade through second-hand stores all over America, pausing to praise the neatly sewn blouses that didn't quite fit, the knitted neckties stretched out of shape, and the corduroy jumpers children grew out of before they could ever try them on. And at the front of each column of marchers, someone could carry a banner reading "Thank You, Thanks For Everything."
From Ted Kooser's Local Wonders - Seasons in the Bohemian Alps