A Home Trail

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In the woods, caught up in the days, and hypnotized by the pendulum of nature, I feel a swing of weeks upon weeks pushing through seasons, while the light changes angle and leaves come and go on the maples and the oaks, and lay papery on the forest floor.  While the chickadees keep time with their greeting in spring, linger through summer, then go elsewhere it seems, and yet the tiny black-headed junco stays.  Perhaps of all the seasonal signs, the pendulum moves most noticeably through the motionless drying landscape of August, the time when the grasses bleach to blonde and mosses turn almost brown, as it is the dry dormant time,  and all things wild wait desperately yet patiently for the first rains of Autumn. The pair of ravens living among the branches near, are talkative, loudly squawking and chortling,  perhaps expressing their impatience too. One never knows.

And here we are one week into September already, a blink away from Autumn! Emma and I are mellowing out waning ourselves into a bit of a stale state.  We are needing incentive to greet the forthcoming Autumn with some kind of significance.  For a long time I’ve pondered, and for a long time I’ve talked, about the big project of the Knitting Trail, while not really applying myself. (Knitting too much? Perhaps!) Taming the wild woods is a boatload of hard labor to put it simply.  Working a delicate maze of trail in and around the framework of the more established trees while trying to see through the forest of younger trees and shrubs is well, an exhausting event of instincts & decisions followed up by manual labor, as I very lightly etch into the forest a path,  inconspicuous as possible, in some places merely moving aside fallen branches or cutting back poison oak. We will have our home trail from where  we can walk through the seasons.

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Me with my trail-making gear consisting of long-handled pruners, a variety of bow saws, and a shovel, while Emma contributes her subtle but constant encouragement, and of course, her nose for a the traffic of the wildlife, which is very helpful.  In need of a really big goal, and I have thought this morning about how life should, oh but very well must, include a physical regimen of some sort, more than once, twice…or thrice out walking closer in to the house. We are going to craft our Daily Mile (or near mile) of walking trail from the bits of trails already in use that we began years back, and impulsively followed, some discarded, some maintained.  And I am going to share with you the whole process. The real challenge is to make this trail nearly entirely near our house’s door step, on ours and on the neighbor’s woods (a generous person granting permission to roam)… so roam we will.

I share this morning, a real determination to make this trail complete.  Beginning from the three-foot tall trail blaze outside of the front door , a stack of stones gathered from the trail head parking lots and roadside of the High Sierra . . .

we go forth !

In a row . . .

jenjoycedesign©hooksTarnished brass hooks on an old oak barrel stave, an artifact from attic, something my mother bought decades ago, and I remember it even then. Now, cut down to fit a new space, and hung again, the row of hooks hold felted wool nests of yarn & needles hanging with purpose midway fulfilled, rounds unfinished, in perpetual knitting motion on the trails which I walk, we walk, Emma and I.

One foot and one paw, in front of the other, we advance over the chaotic forest floor in unison, attempting to find a familiar path to stake. A knitting trail to rake aside the stones and the fallen branches from wind storms, to walk mornings and evenings, while knitting and smelling the wildlife’s potent presence, we go forth. These felted bags seem happy and purposeful, each of them filled with a different knitting project, they wait their turn as well-loved servants.

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As the summer wanes, the air brings quiet subtle twinges of Autumn, and my skin nearly feels the rain that will come two months from now.  Autumn is knit-walking season for me, when the forest has an aroma of spice the trails beckon us and knitting explodes into form. I am happy to say that I am finally getting to the hard work of the long-talked-about Knitting Trail.  Glimpses here and there, and everywhere  will be seen as the days shorten and the walks lengthen, and these bags hold secrets one day to be revealed, as will  sections of trail with the rustic forested sitting spots, glimpses to be shared here for you to gather and sit with me.

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Here & now, in the stale weeks left of summer, I try to maintain a sense of productivity.  I can nearly count the days until the Autumnal Equinox, as it always becomes a very longed-for event in my life, when I am once again as a giddy child. Six weeks and four days . . .

. . .and counting !

Gone Wild

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At the peak

It has been a lovely morning up here on the mountain. Fog at sunrise, cool, crisp, breathing freshness into an otherwise stagnant stillness of our drying Northern California landscape. I feel as if my life has evolved into a new level of wild, as the days are punctuated mostly by the wildlife, or occasional trips into town, and the coming and going of ‘the man’.  Summer brings chickadees and hornets and straggling tough kinds of wildflowers, but mostly a platinum landscape of dry grasses, and oppressive stickery burrs along the trails which are a true pain to have to endure picking off of one’s self, and one’s dog’s fur. No wonder we have been lazy lately.

The dog and I decided to adventure up & out this morning, and so after weeks upon weeks of very little walking, we made it to the top.  Once near the top on the sharp and narrow knife-edge, the actual geological ridge cresting at a width of barely six feet wide in sections, and  covered in young knobcone pines, makes a lovely path to follow….

jenjoycedesign©geographical-ridgeA cliff drop to the east is Napa Valley, and a rolling descent to the west is Sonoma Valley, and from up here one can nearly feel the mountain’s spirit, as if the rock is slowly cutting through centimeter by centimeter, not stagnant but alive, with an energy about it which is luring, beckoning one to get the reward of being at the top. It is a special place the peak, at 2600 feet, and it really is almost less than a half-hour walk from our house if we hoof it, so we vowed to each other to get our lazy selves up there a lot more than we have, Emma and me.

Back at home, deliciously overcast clouds, and a breeze kicking up. While Emma continues her napping, I’m at the drawing board again on a new design, its endless calculations, and with delicious cup of coffee.

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I’ll leave you with a little slideshow of nice shots from our walk, and wish you all well until next time…

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Walking With Wool

I walk in the wild places each day. I walk while I knit wool into things, and I walk while beguiled by the season. I walk into the places which pluck my thoughts from my mundane worries and meaningless schedule and bring them onto a grander stage, extending in all directions and arching from the present to a sort of gelid idea of my future.jenjoycedesign©out walking

I long for my Walk with Wool, as ever-faithful dog named Emma trots along beside me with nostrils flaring, her nose seems to float along in determination to uncover something magnificent. We make great hiking partners even though our agendas are a little different.  Step and stitch together bring me closer to landing grounded to life with a shape. My life which feels at most times so without shape, finds it’s shape this way, in the knitting, and in the walking.

Even at the times when stitches dropped, or yarn falls out of my knitting bag that is slung across my breasts shoulder-to-hip, and unknowingly dragged for a length behind while collecting decaying leaves and even stickery burrs, maybe even some twig-like things. But I feel humor in all of it, and these silly things as yarn tangling among the shrubs as Emma’s leash around things make my life feel rich as heathered colors in a strand of multi-fibered yarn, tweeded with specs of emotions and interrupted by occasional knots which are always discovered with nothing less than annoying inconvenience.

I love my yarns, as I love fresh baked bread, and coffee & chocolate, or a hand-written letter from an envelope. Their poetry is felt as I receive them from out of their bag brought home, and wound with delicious anticipation by hand off of the backs of two chairs or a swift. I love the process of tearing the label off of the skein and then encircling the expanding criss-crossing blades of wood from the swift and tied together until they open into the hoop of yarn. The swift, my new tool of trade, holds the yarn as I secure it, then admire it. Ties clipped, and the end found, gently brought out to meet my hands. To feel the swift move as my right takes the end and loosely winds it around index, middle & ring finger of my left  in a way that the fingers ‘taste’ the yarn as one sips the first cup of rich coffee or aromatic tea.

These feelings, these sensual inner rhythms,  are what a knitter like me feels about the things which make up my creative life. These paths that I wander along, seem to forgive that I am isolated from society but beckon me more passionately to come along and hunker down with nature, and so I am taking to pen so to speak. I am in the mood to begin my knitting-in-nature autobiographical ‘yarnings’ in earnest and at last, so I present to you a first glimpse of “Walking With Wool”. 

Taking It In

002 (3)I’ve been knitting an insane amount lately.  This is a big part of my life, who I am slowly becoming, and I love how I’m involved in it.  Just now I was feverishly working a swatch for a new idea,  and I looked out the window to my beloved mist pouring over the ridge from the Pacific, and remembered that I promised myself to disengage after my last pattern (Penny Candy Winter)… to calm down and enjoy what is left of Autumn, and walk in it every single day. Well, today was one of those rare days I didn’t .  Up here in the California Highlands we’re getting rain, oh yes…

California Highlands… and now two months into Autumn in the mountains and we’re saturated in the mist and rain and the moss is vibrant and I am happy. So happy!  One month left of delicious Autumn to wander and watch the turning of the trees.

My Autumn project is to overhaul a few of my earlier patterns and so I feel at a restless in-between place presently. I’m finished with the last pattern overhaul & update of Dicey Highland Hats,  and now have a pause before starting the next big thing. I’m trying to be a good person and cook a nice quiche for dinner, while doing chores, and at the same time I just want to knit ! Knit!! Knit!!! But I must force myself to stop knitting, to quiet my mind and my racing ideas, and to look around me, because I find that the creative source does need to be rested and nurtured equally as much as it needs to be exercised and developed. Answers come in the void spaces most often, let the mist into the mind to obscure the sharpness, and to let my thoughts have a good rest.

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