women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Let's start at the very beginning.
A very good place to start

- Sound of Music

Remember the opening scenes of the movie "You've Got Mail?" Meg Ryan is shown practically waltzing down the streets of the upper west side of Manhattan. Upon arriving at her bookstore, she sharpens a whole box of no. 2 pencils and then, with a flourish, she presents them in a vase upon her front counter, like a floral arrangement. It is a perfect embodiment of both the season and her character's passion for it.

I took a film class my senior year in college and one thing the professor said has always stuck with me: in a good movie, everything has a reason for being there. The first glimpses"You've Got Mail" gives us into Meg Ryan's life, mirror the thematic material extended throughout, as the heroine faces both endings and beginnings.

Just as each school year, upon its timely demise in June, gives way to the fresh start of the new semester in September (or August these days), so is she challenged by the endings and beginnings she faces in life. She is forced to close the children's bookstore that her mother founded, coping with the death of a dream, yet she is challenged by the end of the movie, with both a new love and a new career as a children's author.

Every year at this time, we climb back aboard the train of our lives, headed away from the sylvan shores of summer, with its lazy, hazy days, and towards the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. As our children head back to school, we feel our pulses quicken. We look ahead to challenges and rewards. We wonder what God has in store for us.

At the same time, we yearn to turn back the clock, to hang on for dear life to the lingering sun, to grab just one more day at the shore, in the forest, on the mountain. Never is life so immediate, never are we so fully present, as when we disconnect our phones and fax machines, and gather with our families and friends to celebrate summer. It is a season of process, not progress.

But as with all things, life moves on. The shorter days and cooler evenings presage the change we know is coming. Soon it will be time for leaf peeping, and pumpkin carving, and wool knitting. Soon, the gifts fashioned by our loving hands will move on to new owners, warming their hearts as well as their bodies.

Soon we will watch our children running through the leaf piles, heedless of any extra work they might be engendering, delighted with the crunch, and the color, and the slightly musty smell of autumn. They do not consider the falling leaves a sign of decay. They know the leaves will sprout again, come April. They can embrace the ending, because they know the beginning.

As I have moved around the blogosphere this week, I am reminded of endings: a beloved mother lost to a dear friend, an eldest son moving out and onward to college, an otherworldly shawl blocked out to a delicacy found in spider webs, seemingly fragile, yet strong with both the integrity of its raw materials and the soul of its creator.

I also see evidence of beginnings: one friend learning to spin, another opening an internet store, a third contemplating stepping up to the challenge of knitting an intricate lace coat, unsure of her abilities yet cognizant of her heart's yearning for beauty.

I don't like endings. Most people don't. They are, as Shakespeare wrote, "sweet sorrow." but here's the thing: without endings, there can be no beginnings.

The skeins of yearn yarn(now there is a revelation by typo if I ever saw one!) that I am working with these days from Briar Rose are huge by anyone's standards - anywhere from 600 to 1500 yds. each. The sheer volume of the balls produced by them overwhelms my small ball winder and I consider whether I need a larger one. Eventually I may succumb (I'm weak.) but for now, I simply choose a suitable point at which to break off the yarn, and start another ball. And the eternal cycle of ending and beginning continues.

Knitters don't like endings. When faced with the end of one length of yarn and the start of another, we must splice the yarn, tie the loose ends together, or overlap the ending of one strand with the beginning of another. (And don't get me started on knots within a purchased skein. Oy!) Loose ends are messy, they are time consuming, and they eventually must be woven into the fabric if we want the piece to become "whole."

Even so, the loose ends of our lives. Death, disease, divorce, bankruptcy, moving (I can personally attest to that one!) All involve the end of an endeavor, a relationship, a home, a way of life. All are messy. All are time and emotion consuming. And all must eventually be woven into the fabric of our lives if we wish to become whole.

Me? I'm better at beginnings. My "Ideas" folder will always be stuffed chock full and overflowing, my FO folder less so. I cannot knit (or write) fast enough to fully explore all of the options that occur to me. There are just not enough hours in the day. I know this about myself and try to adjust accordingly.

I begin holiday knitting in June.

I work on many projects at a time, so that when ennui sets in I have somewhere else to go.

I tell my husband that the sweater I began for him two years ago is a Christmas gift.

I don't tell him which year.

As I move into this season of fresh callings from God, I rejoice in the opportunities presented before me. I face a veritable smörgåsbord: new books publishing, new patterns selling, new relationships deepening. I miss my quieter days of gestation, now that so many things are coming to fruition. But it is harvest time, and the fruits of the spirit must be tendered to those who need them, not left to rot in the field.

It's over. It's over. Thank God it's over.

Now we must begin again.


margene said...

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

If you never reach an end is the beginning of any worth?

Opal said...

Beautiful post and it comes at an opportune time for me. You've reminded me that even though there is an end for some things, there are also new beginnings to be sought.

Donna Lee said...

I like the change into fall as much as I like the change into spring. In the fall, I like the "hunkering down" preparing for cold weather, making chicken and dumplings (something too hot and heavy for summer) and letting go of summer. I believe that everything comes in its own time. And Christmas sweaters are Christmas sweaters, no matter how many Christmases they take.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most thought-provoking posts I've ever read. I am a first time reader (came over from Cassie at Too Much Wool) but ou've been bookmarked and I will be back.