Hello, it’s Sarah Graves, again, this time coming to you from The Great Indoors, which is what February is turning into in Eastport, Maine. It is if you want to keep your bones unbroken and your ligaments untorn anyway; every walking surface outside is ice-covered. That’s because first it rained, and then it froze, and then it rained again, and…
You get the idea. I like to call it the winter-on-a-rock-halfway-out-into-the-North-Atlantic effect, if you’ll forgive me a little poetic license. So besides writing, I’ve been reading, knitting, and cleaning, which brings me to the first of my topics today: you know those people who say old houses are hard to keep clean? Well, I’m here to say those people are absolutely, heartbreakingly correct. Just one example: in a very old house, if you don’t damp-wipe the corners every few days — I know, who’d be so slatternly as to neglect that, right? — the dust sinks into the varnish and attaches itself permanently. That’s right, it can’t be wiped up. (Cue weird, scary theremin music.)
Also in an old house in winter, the task is to keep fresh air out, on
account of the many dollars one must burn — actually, it might be cheaper just to burn dollar bills — to heat the fresh air up again. So… you see where I’m going with this (holds nose). Not only that, but the ice outside has sand on it, and we track the sand inside, and… Oh, never mind, I’ll just wait a few weeks more and then borrow a firehouse from the fire department, connect it to a hydrant, and hose the whole place out thoroughly in spring.
Next: reading. And may I just say right here that John Jeremiah Sullivan’ s Pulphead is in my opinion terrrific? Essays about fascinating things, such as for instance ancient Native American cave paintings and burial sites, a different take on Michael Jackson, roots music, and the coming war on us by the animals, to name only a few. Maybe all of you knew about this guy already, but I didn’t, and what a treat it’s been finding out.
And finally: knitting. Is anyone making nets by hand in Maine, anymore? Not just the handles, but the actual mesh? I know people are still doing those big woolen mitts that get smaller and more felted each time they dry out on the radiator, until they end up the proper size and as strong as iron, and they will still keep your hands warm even when they do get wet. Pattern mittens are ever-popular too, the double stranded kind (for the different colors) with pattern names like fox & geese and flying geese & partridge feet.
I’m not doing anything so clever, but I have knitted a 3′ x 3′ square this winter, all in garter stitch (calming and restorative!) for a lap robe. I’m starting now on the edging, and hope to finish by spring. Or, if the sheet ice outside stays treacherous and I don’t find anything as compelling as Pulphead right away, maybe even sooner…
And meanwhile, just in case I’ve given you any ideas, I’ve got dibs on that firehose.