Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Tale of a Happy Fool


Aren't those clouds beautiful? They're pretty enough to be a distracting hazard for people like me who tend to watch nature when I should be watching what I'm doing. That's what happened last week. There I was, ankle-deep in mud, digging a trench along the new greenhouse. The plan was to direct the snowmelt and storm drainage around and away from the structure instead of letting it continue its natural path right through it. (Somebody didn't plan well, but that's another story.) So I jam the shovel into the muck and start to lift. I notice movement at the edge of my vision and turn my head, just a bit, to gawk at a red-tailed hawk soaring low just north of me. Now, the smart thing would have been to stop digging. But no, not me. I continue both digging and gawking, two dangerously incompatible activities. One misjudged twist, and -- ouch! There goes my back. And just when my strained wrist had recovered almost enough for me to pick up the knitting again.

Shortly thereafter I foolishly tried to at least pull the shovel out of the muck, and my view switched to this:

It wasn't so bad though, not yet. I was lying in this:

The cold water negated any immediate need for an ice pack. I lay there for a while, muttering words unfit for tender ears and contemplating my own foolishness, the uncomfortable days ahead, and the long list of things that would not get done. Blue, my favorite old dog (pictured above), licked my face, in case I needed reviving. Then the other two dogs noticed, and a scuffle over licking privileges ensued. Once that was settled, and I'd worked myself up to moving, I attempted to rise. Ralphie (below on the left) moved in close to help. He's 80 pounds of strong muscle and trained to stand still and strong when I'm slip-sliding on the ice and need his steadiness to help me regain my footing. The tactic works equally well in the muck, it seems. And so, with his help, I managed to stand. And then, it happened. I lifted my fingers from his fur, noticed that the recent warm weather had triggered a bit of shedding. So I bent -- I actually bent over, groaning with pain, and finger combed through his fur for enough hair to hand twist into a thread.
Really, it's a sickness. It has to be. Who else would stand ankle deep in the muck, shivering with cold, soaking wet and injured, in order to finger spin dog hair into a thread to evaluate the season's potential for creating unusual yarn? I worked up a thread about a foot long, then added enough twist to ply it back on itself. I spared another moment to admire how the sun glistened on my little bit of yarn, then turned toward the house.

And I couldn't help myself. I hobbled along the path and planned a sweater. Two-ply, handspun, with a soft nubby texture, most likely knit in a pebble stitch. One ply of the yarn would be a naturally colored blend of sheep's wool, from Tinkerbelle the Babydoll Southdown ewe and Ralphie's soft white undercoat. The other ply would be Tinkerbelle's wool dyed in a colorway that captured the colors of the sky above and the muted greens and browns of the ground where I'd been. I'd call it my Happy Fool Sweater.

I'm taking more care with this little back injury than I did with the wrist. After all, I have things to do. Sheep to shear, a dog to comb out, yarn to spin, a sweater to knit -- and of course, a book to write. And there are many more magnificent clouds in the sky to contemplate . . . carefully.

7 Comments:

Blogger loribird said...

Oh, dear. What a story...
My husband is always sighing as he finds little pieces of fingerspun (and plied) wool/yarn/thread/straw/anything-I-get-my-hands-on strewn around the house... It may be a sickness.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Laura, I feel terribly guilty. The vision of you finger-spinning Ralphie's fur in the middle of back spasms made me laugh. Not laugh at you, of course, but with you because haven't we all been there? Knitters and writers have a lot in common--we know how to turn adversity (even momentary adversity) into something wonderful.

9:54 PM  
Blogger LauraP said...

Laugh away, Barbara. It's a family joke how easily I can be distracted by the right 'bait'. If it involves wool or woolgathering, I'm so there.

loribird - you too? The fingers do it automatically when anything spinable lands within reach, don't they?

10:44 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

I'm equally guilty for laughing in sympathy at Laura's happy foolishness. I've done things just as strange and inexplicable. I've also thrown my back out and send you much sympathy for that pain. Take care and feel better soon!

11:13 PM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Ouch, Laura! And yet, like all writers, you got a story out of it. And yarn, too - a bonus!

Take care, lady.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I'm so sorry that you've hurt yourself (again), but how wonderful to have dogs that will help (I really don't think either of mine would even notice if I was hurt), and to be able to distract yourself with the planning of a sweater.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

*if I were hurt
Sorry, policing my own grammar here.

10:08 AM  

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