Sunday, August 7, 2011

I've Got My Darning Needle Ready!

Whenever I feel a bit dulled by stress. Or wound up. Or unable to piece together a creative thought, I consider my day and I ask myself “What is one thing that stood out for me?” Sometimes I try to force the 'one thing'. I tell myself it was the crackle of thunder that woke me up or the delicious peaches and ice cream I had for dessert. But if I really and truly want to discover the kernel of something wonderful, I must relax my mind and wait. I've been asking and waiting all day today and just now, in the early evening, it comes to me. It was my mother's comment when I dropped her off in the car after taking her to the bank. Just before leaving the car, she cheerfully turned to me and said “I've got my darning needle and dental floss ready!” Now we hadn't been talking about anything even remotely related to either darning needles or dental floss and so for a moment or two, I was perplexed. But later in the day, it hit me. You see, just yesterday, my mother and I spent the day out at “The Bothy”. The bothy is a cabin in the woods that she and my father built from reclaimed lumber. They both embarked on this project when they were in their 70's.

My mother's main mission during the summer months is to make “the bothy” mouse-proof. She herself grew up in a log cabin in the bush with seven other siblings and perhaps her own mother was in a constant battle with mice. But for whatever reason, my mother works hard to ensure that every cupboard is airtight, and every nook and cranny is sealed. Almost nothing on earth gets my mother down, but any sign of mice defeats her mood, (though only momentarily).

Yesterday at the bothy, we tried to pick blueberries but the heat was scorching and so we gave up after gathering only a cup or two. We then tried to open the boathouse but the lock had rusted. Next we proceeded to putter in the cabin. And somewhere along the way, we came across evidence of mice who had taken up residence in the couch. They had nibbled a hole into the cotton filling and left scores of mouse droppings behind. We first folded up the heavy futon cover and hauled it outdoors to shake it out. I then took a knife and pried into the hole, ferreting out cotton and droppings. After hauling the futon back indoors, we folded it with the outside in, and fought with it until it sat back on the couch frame. But it sat badly. It drooped here and puffed out there. So we fought with it some more. Finally, we got it into a position we were both semi-happy with. It was a “for now” kind of a position though. Between the two of us, we decided that on our next trip out, we would slice the futon cover in half using a sharp kitchen knife and sew it up again. Twenty-four hours have passed since either of us have mentioned the couch. But my mother's comment today- “I've got my darning needle and dental floss ready!” is her reference to repairing it up.

My mother, I realize always has her darning needle ready. In my mother's world, every single problem can be solved with a darning needle of one sort of the other. She may have a discouraging moment but it's only ever a moment. I, on the other hand, don't have that same readiness to face every problem. But it is something truly to aspire to. All this business of living a creative life, I realize, is incomplete without that spunk that most of life's problems can be solved with a darning needle!


  1. I love this - it's true - all problems can be solved with little more than a darning needle and some perseverence!

  2. Once in a while, a problem comes along that is beyond a darning needle. But that's rare indeed.

  3. I can see where you get your creativity and optimism from! It is so cool that your parents built the bothy when they were in their seventies! Truly something to aspire to! I see now what I have been missing, I'm going to have to get a darning needle!

  4. Maybe we should start a darning needle society.
    Thanks Katja!