Do the unexpected
Saturday December 10th 2011, 10:39 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Part One.

I had no idea what the place was going to be like or even quite where it was going to be. Which was okay, I was going to be the passenger.

My friend Nina was taking part in a small–very small, as it turned out–holiday craft fair in Sky Londa today, immediately down the hill from Alice’s Restaurant.

Phyl was sure it was going to be held indoors and safe for my lupus, and it’s always good to see Nina, so up twisty Highway 84 we went.

Well, there were doors, that much turned out to be true: a stand-alone room of a building with the doors wide open and most of the crafty goings-on out in the fresh air, with Christmas trees over to the side being picked out and bundled onto cars, attracting people driving by to or from the coast. Come.  You see all these trees all around? Bring one home with you, pine-sized. Buy a handknit woolly scarf while you choose in the chill.

The sky was a dense fog, the ear-popping elevation not limited to the tops of the redwoods. I had on two layers of sweaters, wool knee socks, and a good wool hat. Nina was cold in a down jacket and thick hat and I realized that my heating-impaired house had gotten me more used to colder weather than I’d realized. (One site says it was 46F there today, one, a bit more.)

Checking the blog, it was Wednesday that that skein of Malabrigo Rios jumped onto my needles for no reason I knew of and just absolutely demanded that I knit it into a hat, and fast. NOW. And there seemed to be only one stitch pattern for it. That was that.

It wasn’t for my Christmas knitting queue, either. Don’t ask me how I knew that, but it just felt obvious all of its own. Well, huh.

So it got made. I knit it into the pattern that surrounds this blog, except done with yarnovers to make fern lace. I ran the ends in to finish it this morning right before Phyllis came to pick me up; whoever it was going to be for wouldn’t mind if I wore it just this one day, would they?

Ferns grow freely among the redwoods, the fronds echoing the green needles above; the Azules colorway echoed the California coastal sky, bright blue and foggy mixed together. With a touch of green. The ferns.

There was a seat just behind the window next to the door. After admiring Nina’s knitting for sale and visiting with a few friends, (side note for them: my brother Bryan’s Jeppson Guitars is here) I sat down there, figuring the glass would give me a little bit of UV protection on one side at least, pulled some yarn out from my purse, and started another hat while listening to a singer with his guitar who was seated in that room too and whose sound had drawn me in there in the first place.

I tell you, he was good. I looked around for signs of CDs I could write a check for but saw none.

Another man had told me there would be four musicians together later, and I’m quite sorry to have missed that but I can only be outside so much. But while I could be there, the one playing then, I could have listened to forever.

Yarn winding in time around wood as he played helped keep me warm.

I (in my sun worries) thought we were there about an hour and a half; Phyllis later guessed about 45 minutes. Judging by rows finished, she’s probably right. She came to me to say she was done just as I was finishing up a needle; okay, cool–and just as the musician finished his song and said what he was going to be playing next.

He had a blue canister with the word TIPS painted prominently in bright yellow.

I was standing up to go but turned to him instead, glad that I could say something without interrupting–the timing had come out perfect. I said very briefly I had no cash with me (much though I wished) and major home repairs waiting. But this I could do: Malabrigo. Some of the finest wool in the world. I had just knitted this (and I took off my hat). I had made it up as I’d gone along, and it is a woman’s, but I was sure he could find someone to give it to; “I want to throw my hat in the ring” to thank him for his music, and with that I put it in his tip jar.

The new warmth in his smile was like no one else’s.

Part two.

We were pulling out when I went, “The honey!”

“Oh, right,” answered Phyl, offering to let silly me pay her back later (I did) and she pulled off to the left to where someone was selling local honey across the side street.

He had blackberry! My favorite! I told the man I couldn’t go to the Kings Mountain Art Fair anymore where I used to buy it; too much sun time.

He asked if I were sensitive to the sun?

Turns out he and his doctor have discussed whether he had lupus on his arm. He seemed grateful to be able to say that to someone who knew what the word meant.

I explained there were two types, skin only and systemic. If he has it there, don’t let the word scare you.

He told me as we left, “You take care of yourself.”

“You too.” And I assured him that systemic notwithstanding, I’d had it twenty+ years; I’m doing fine.  He was visibly comforted.

Part three.

Costco run. I grabbed my piano hat on our way out the door. If I was able to stay warm enough on that mountain I didn’t need more than a hat thrown on down here too, right?

There was a woman in the store’s motorized wheelchair wearing a set-up that I recognized from when my son had knee surgery: her leg looked tinker-toyed. She was offered a sample of smoked salmon and wanted to buy some, but it turned out to be set on a shelf high above her head and the person giving the stuff out was too swamped with customers to notice.

But I did. “Do you want me to reach that for you?”

“Oh, yes, please! If you would.”

Now, I have spent my time needing that chair before. I know that people in wheelchairs like to browse too: like not just having help getting something down, but also like not being forced to buy it or stash it in the wrong place after looking it over simply because there is no physical way to get it back up high again, the helpful person by then long gone.

So I hung around the salmon a moment, just in case, thinking, browse away, hon.

She asked me if I were a pianist?

(I didn’t say, not like my concert-pianist grandmother nor my organ-performance-minor son, but) “Yes.”

She was too! She LOVED my hat! Wait–I’d *made* it?!

Hey (bring on the brag). I’d designed it.

I showed her the inside: how I’d wrapped the yarn across the backs of every single stitch so it wouldn’t have long lengths to snag on things. But that had made it so the black shows through the white keys a bit across the front, and for later hats, I’d gone with the long lengths. (The floats, to a knitter.)

I did offer to put the salmon back up if by chance she needed that. She loved that someone understood how it was to be seated.

However long later, Richard turned back to get one last thing for me and then we headed to the checkout. With him at the cart, he picked a line.

Which turned out to be next to that woman. Her young sons had joined her by then, one quite small, one maybe six or seven. I knew it couldn’t be easy to have Mom having a hard time getting around for awhile, especially if that’s a change.

I said a quick inner prayer, wondering. In response I felt this: could I re-create the hat? Sure, in a day, two, tops. Could I re-create this moment? Not on your life. And so while she was turned the other way I whipped my hat off my head, stepped over and tucked it into her cart just as she turned back.

She was stunned. “NO!” in disbelief. A delighted butbutbut.

May I?

She shook her head in how can I let you and joy and are you sure. Yes I’m sure.

She exclaimed some more and her older boy admired it and put it on his head. She told me he played violin.

“I don’t know how to knit a violin yet,” I laughed. (Thinking, but just wait…)

Her husband joined them right about then and the next thing I saw, all of them were laughing and happy, and then the older couple behind them in line were happy for them and admiring their hat and loving being at Costco right there right then.

I had been exposed to enough UV earlier to burn my cheeks and wonder what my T- (ed. to add, and B-) cells would do next. But as I once told my friend Scott, “Sometimes you just have to LIVE!”  I was hoping the Decembery conditions would be enough in my favor, but it was a risk and I knew it and I weighed it and I took it. Maybe, hopefully, I’ll be fine. Some things are worth what you pay for them. It was a day well spent.

But that very awareness pushed me to choose not to be selfish but to grab the moment given me to make that family happy.

As that musician had made me happy by the depth of that smile that had lit up his whole countenance. He, too, had played his part to help make it happen for them.

We all arrived of our own choices where we were supposed to be.

8 Comments so far
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Awesome! And many warm blessings to you for all that you do. You, and your T cells, are in my thoughts. May they not raise any fuss. Hope the making of the new piano hat is pure fun.

Comment by DebbieR 12.10.11 @ 11:22 pm

What a WARM, touching series of stories. No coincidences.

(Now behave and be still, T and B cells!)

Comment by Channon 12.11.11 @ 5:40 am

What a wonderful day! Sending love your way along with hopes that you get away with that extra sun exposure this time. *hugs!*

Comment by (formerly) no-blog-rachel 12.11.11 @ 8:21 am

oh, oh and oh again — you in one day make plain that truth of the poet – “all that we send into the lives of others comes back again into our own”

Comment by Bev 12.11.11 @ 10:36 am

i hope that one day i can be as good as you. you give me such a good example.

Comment by Tola 12.11.11 @ 8:14 pm

Your experience has warmed my heart and teared my eyes. You are such a wonderful person, spreading your knitting joy everywhere you go!

Comment by Jody 12.12.11 @ 6:27 am

I’m tearing up reading your post: your kindness and generosity are moving…

Comment by Suzanne in Montreal 12.12.11 @ 9:37 am

Reading this makes me smile – with the joy of the giving you experienced, and also with the recollected joy of handing over my Kidsilk haze scarf to the lovely young lady who had been my tour guide in Beijing this weekend. More on that in a blog post to come, but I want you to know you inspired other giving this last week.

Comment by twinsetellen 12.13.11 @ 4:20 am

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