What the Body Remembers

imagesSo, I have been thinking a lot about muscle memory. In attempting to learn anything using hand/eye coordination,  we have to persist until that moment, or series of moments when the hands take over from the too vigilant brain. That happened with learning to knit, it happened with learning to spin, and happened with learning to weave. This just reinforces for me what wisdom we carry in our bodies that my overactive chattering mind can miss. I can concentrate so hard on achieving the task that I forget to just give it time, and let the hands and body do their thing.

I found myself a bit “off” yesterday, a bit thin-skinned and glad to be home in my little so-called studio. Of course the rain and winds starting up contributed too. However, it was just such a comfort to stay home, let the fireplace stay on and spin, that activity that “self soothes”, that nourishes.

It finally occurred to me what was up. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my last radiation treatment. That day when I was hugged by the treatment team and “graduated” into the land of routine check ups and a return to (eventual) normal life. (Whatever that means!) I don’t talk directly about the events of last year on this blog, but I must be feeling stronger now, as writing about it doesn’t make me feel so vulnerable. This isn’t a health blog, or a cancer blog – if anyone wonders, I am one of the very lucky people who is expected to be cured.  The success rate for treatment for my kind of cancer is very high. I do get the privilege of being watched closely for a while, just in case, but so far, all is well.

My body remembered before my brain clued in. How about that?

The practice of gratitude is a large part of what we do in our particular tradition of Buddhism. (It’s fundamental to every religion, gratitude is one of the biggies.) Gratitude manifests in so many ways, both externally and internally. We give thanks verbally, we offer our hearts, and at times we offer our bodies, including our hands to others. Motivations for doing things can get muddy if we aren’t careful, but if what we do is in the spirit of gratitude we have less chance of adding all sorts of self to the mix. In a goofy way, one of the reasons I knit hats and send them along to Grant to drop them off at a charity downtown is because of my gratitude that I can.

The daffodil is the symbol of the Canadian Cancer Society. Interesting, in the month when the society does its fundraising, I see lots and lots of people wearing it. All of us are in the same boat really.

IMG_1258Another shot from our recent trip.

I am half way through a bunch of stuff – half a knitted stole of my own design, half a bump of fibre spun, and half a length of woven cloth. Hopefully some finished objects for next time.

Actual Knitting and Spinning Content

Well, I guess the season has turned. In the past I would ramble on about leaves turning, the temperatures dropping, the crispness in the air, the rain, oh yes, the rain.  All true to be sure. But it seems that the true marking of the season’s change in this house is when I oil the wheel, warp the loom and start to plot the knits.

IMG_1338Rocky Mountain socks, done on our trip. (With cat hair so my family and friends can tell that yes, these were photographed in my house.) Great Patons Kroy yarn, in the Ragg Shades colourway. This yarn is the first time I have looked at sock weight and considered doing a sweater. Briefly. On consideration, that would be a) expensive, b) exceedingly time-consuming and c) the stripes would show in a much different way on a larger scale. These were just great to knit though, and the yarn is bouncy and shimmery. Lots of instant gratification. I trialled some new needles, the Knitters Pride Cubics, so-called “square needles” – they were nice on the hands but the fabric is slightly more flabby than I like. We shall see how these socks hold up. I think I have the smallest needles they make which are 2.75 mm so maybe I will have to go back to smaller and round needles for socks.  It will all become clear fairly soon as Grant says he really likes these and will wear them. It’s so nice to knit for someone who appreciates it.

IMG_1340I had to lighten this pic a bit to show the colours of this top more clearly. This is a very fancy shmancy blend of alpaca and silk from the Sassy Sheep. It is gorgeous, and spins so easily, my dear wheel just sits back and accepts it. I plan to make a two ply and weave with it, likely another scarf as I am still besotted with previous efforts done with handspun. This colour way is Forest and it is fairly self-evident why.

No deep thoughts this week, just a check in. We are still coming to terms  with resuming the day-to-day after a stellar trip to the Rockies. Funny how, even though we don’t hike like we did in the old days, (no long back packs, no grand isolation,)  simply being quiet and appreciating what we actually have makes the point of a getaway so clear. To bring this attitude of mind to every day, to work, to the same old, that’s the thing.  Ordinary life, how extraordinary!

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(From the very first day of our September trip, in the campground near Kamloops. Before his/her mother called her away.)

Season of the Squirrel(?)

The little blog has been quiet as we have been away on our annual wander off into the woods.  Until last year, when circumstances forced a different time, and a different mode of travel, we have regularly taken the first two weeks of September to go away. Our modus operandi has changed a bit: no backpacking this year, and for the most part we slept in the van instead of tenting it. This year we were on well trod trails as well. But it was wonderful. The Canadian Rockies are full of travellers over the summer and fall – lots and lots of Germans in their “CanaDream” RV rentals, many other accents and languages greet one on the hikes. After the kids go back to school labour day, well, the majority of walkers seem to have grey hair too. I guess we fit the bill.

IMG_1160Mt. Robson is an icon. What the photo neglects to show is us – nekkid as jaybirds on the sand bar in the sun, having done our daily bath in the river below. Yes, it was that warm! (Not the river, the weather. The river, well, that was a tad chilly. But we are tough, oh yes.) Mt. Robson is one of those peaks that has it’s own weather, and the summit is frequently engulfed in cloud. We had it to view for three days in a row. Auspicious.

We hit lots of high points – literally and figuratively. The national park system is pretty well regulated so we were rarely completely on our own. That van, though, it does give us some opportunities to explore. At the Fryatt Valley trailhead we got to meet these two – mother and baby, though baby is clearly growing up a bit. Mutual curiosity!

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I have a deep love and respect for bears. There is a growing body of literature that speaks to their intelligence and adaptability. Their much feared ferocity may be a result of the so often tragic human/animal collision. Certainly our experience hiking has always been very positive. To be clear – we are responsible types, hang our food, use common sense and don’t put ourselves in the way of the animals we share space with. I can sing loudly on the trail, which certainly seems to scare off most things! Interestingly, growing up in bear country we didn’t have problems. I think my parent’s habit of keeping the farm clean and not having temptations around for bears like garbage or food scraps helped. A bit of my heart breaks when I hear about bears being shot because they have been acclimated to humans and thus become a risk.  I have also never forgotten the events of our first year on the farm up north, having to stay in the house until the grizzly who had killed a man was found. According to family lore, the grizzly turned on the man hunting it. It was an old and starving bear which was close to ranch land. I only remember not being allowed to play outside, and a hazy memory of a group of men with rifles.

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From our evening walk above the Icefields Parkway. We followed an old trail above our campground and sat to watch the sun lower. Something else eh?

Besides the bear and a few deer we didn’t see a lot of wildlife. I started to snort whenever I saw the signs indicating mountain sheep or elk. Not a one to be seen. I don’t think it was just me, I heard others complaining. Maybe it was the warm weather.  Campgrounds stayed open later and it seemed there were more travellers on the road too – any sensible wildlife was likely headed upwards and onwards. So much for my second career as a wildlife photographer. Not this trip.

But season of the squirrel? Hundreds of the them!

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Chattering, yelling, dropping pine cones on us, territorial – busy. This was our dawn chorus and evensong. Even the birds seemed to take a back seat.

In terms of knitting, well, it is hard to knit in the van when the scenery is so stunning. Part of a pair of socks, maybe to be photographed later. Now we are home and the loom is warped, and a number of cooler weather projects are beckoning. These can wait for another post.