I wear a lot of hats, as you know, but the one I turn to in times of stress
is quilting. I think that’s because quilting is something I can do that doesn’t
involve sitting still. I’m a knitter, too, but when I’m feeling anxious, I
can’t sit in one place for very long, and knitting – while meditative –
requires me to sit in a chair for extended periods of time.
Quilting, on the other hand, lets me be creative in a non-static way as I
move between the cutting table, ironing board and sewing machine. Sometimes I
put my ironing board in the kitchen so I have to traverse my (admittedly small)
house to get to it. I can put music on and bop around while arranging blocks on
the design wall. Or I can turn the music off and enjoy the hum of the sewing
machine if my mind is too full of news and the dire straits of others.
I’m not saying quilting is exercise…it’s more like the full-body
equivalent of jiggling my foot if I were sitting in a chair with my knitting
needles. Does that make sense?
And then, there’s something indescribably delicious about creating something
that fills the need for both beauty and function. If quilting isn’t a creative
outlet that has saved my life, it’s certainly one that has saved my sanity on
more than one occasion.
Quilting is like gardening…and like knitting… and like writing. You start
out with an empty piece of ground, a blank piece of paper, a skein of wool, a
stack of colourful fabrics. And then you create.
There’s a certain feeling you get when you straighten your back after pulling weeds, transplanting seedlings, deadheading flowers…when you cast off the last row and put your needles down…when you step away from the keyboard, breathless after writing the final scene…A feeling of wonder as you pause for a minute and admire the beauty you’ve created.
What’s your creative outlet during this stressful time?
Our Yukon summer sojourn is over. We drove away from Dawson City two days ago.
Tomorrow will see the Yukon behind us for another winter.
I took a lot of walks, saw two parades, read a lot of books, made my 60,000 word goal on the next novel, made some new friends, and learned some interesting things this summer. And I still haven’t told you what brought us up here in the first place.
It would be so easy to stay and make a home here…so easy to knit myself into the community.
We’ll be back next summer, for four months this time. Four!I’ve got some planning to do! Maybe I’ll teach a dance class, see if any local writers want to get together, join the fitness club, make a quilt by hand, start another novel…
Dear Vi,You might have heard that the streets of Dawson City are paved with gold,but the truth is, they aren’t paved at all.Here’s evidence: boot brushes outside the door of every establishment.And miles of boardwalk.This summer has been a writing retreat for me. I left home with a sketchy idea for my next novel, and today I’m well over halfway there. I’m writing about 1,000 words every time I sit down, which has been about 5 days per week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. When I’m not writing, I’m reading All The Books, which is so incredibly delicious – a summer of unlimited time.
And I’ve been accompanying Sam on his walks, of course. We love to walk up and down the streets, the boardwalk sometimes booming under our feet, sometimes squeaking , often soft with age.
I brought quilting projects and everything I need to sew a blouse, but haven’t taken my sewing machine out even once. And that’s just fine. It’s okay to stop once in awhile to wade in the water and smell the grass.
Dawson City sits at the place where the Klondike and Yukon Rivers merge.
In many ways, the town itself mirrors this merging. The rivers flow side-by-side for a ways, the line between the muddy Yukon and the (slightly) clearer Klondike easy to discern. And the city flows side-by-side, too. Old and new holding hands the way you did with your best friend back in kindergarten. Yes, Dawson City is a historic gold rush town, fun to visit.
But it’s also a town where people live and work and raise their kids. Old and new are side by side everywhere you look.This is where I buy my groceries:And the liquor store (in the old harness shop!):My favourite restaurant:The local community radio station (with proud show hosts):The Gold Rush, past and present, all coming together where the rivers meet. And the First Nations…don’t assume I’ve forgotten them. Their story is the oldest of all. But I’ll save that for another time, another letter.
This morning, the radio reported that it was overcast in Dawson City when in reality the sky was blue, blue, blue with not a cloud in sight. Our weather reports come from Kelowna, BC, over a thousand miles south. And this morning we had the news feed coming in from Yellowknife, about 1,000 miles to the East. Serious distances.So how would they know the weather was completely wrong , way over here? Heh heh heh.Well, such a beautiful day requires pictures of flowers, don’t you agree? My neighbour brought me a bouquet from her lovely flower garden:And I even have a few pots growing beside our travel trailer home.One of the things I’ve always loved about Dawson City is the flowers. Along fences and other creative places…Summer is short in the Yukon.The first leaves come out in mid May and they start to change in late July.Mother Nature has a lot to do and not much time to get it done.When you live in a landscape where you’re always dealing with winter or preparing for winter, colour is very important.
Dawson City used to be known for its beautiful vegetables. I remember walking the side streets and alleys, gasping in admiration of the back yard gardens, the giant cabbages and lush trellised peas. But times and priorities change, along with the population. The old timers are mostly gone, and the new people moving in aren’t here for the long haul, and so don’t garden. That’s my guess, anyway.
But thank goodness the flowers remain as bright and plentiful as always.