It's that time of year again, where more than ever we all start acting a little squirrely. Socking away extra hats for imminent bad weather. Gathering up ample wool to while away the longer and cooler nights indoors, crafting peacefully by the hearth (or the flatscreen).
We prepare for all sorts of different things, at all times of the year, but as it gets darker earlier, cooler sooner, and eventually as the sun just barely manages to show up to work at all, it seems like there are just more things we need to be ready for.
Winter, with its blustery days, requires more layers of fluffy accessories. Emergencies are always something you want to be ready for, but you're a tad bit more likely to be stranded in a cold car awaiting a snow plow in December than in August. Holidays happen all year long, but those at the end of the year are at once more festive and more demanding. And, of course, there's always that nagging desire to be ready for even the worst of things. I personally see no fewer than twenty zombies every October; they come right up to the door and knock, the cheeky little buggers!
Many of us have more than just fiber arts in common. When we sit and chat, the conversation reveals just how many of us cook, garden, and even raise animals. Part of it is that despite the big cities around us, a lot of us live closer to a farm than a skyscraper. Some of us even live on farms.
And all these various skills have sort of the same tone to them, for the most part. It's creativity, but it's also part self-reliance. We can make things, useful things. Things to keep our family, friends, ourselves and even strangers warm or fed or cheery. That first scarf you gave to a loved one, that first batch of cookies that turned out juuuust right. The look on a child's face as they nibble on a carrot they grew themselves. These are satisfying things, even addictive things. Making something or doing something that directly and concretely affects someone in a positive way is an indescribably fulfilling sensation. Even if that someone is yourself.
So the other part of why we all seem to have a lot more than wool and cotton in common, I think, is that fiber arts can be either a gateway drug of sorts to this enigmatic feeling, or another step on the path if knitting or crocheting wasn't your first foray into this dimension of living. When you make something good, and it makes someone feel good, you may look for other ways to recreate that feeling. That afghan warmed your grandmother's heart as it warmed you at night. That bowl of stew filled your family's bellies just as it filled you with pride.
Which all connects nicely with getting ready. When you know that you can make these things, store them up for when they are needed most, the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment is even greater. Not only will those gloves look so cute, they'll keep fingers frostbite-free. Working hard in the garden, or searching for the right farmer's market, and canning fresh fruits and vegetables for the winter is rewarded with delicious meals all winter long. Or, at least in this house, until mid-December or so, when the World's Largest Mice discover the hoarded goods. (At least it's easy to pick out the culprit(s), what with the jam-stained shirt fronts and all.)
I'd love to know all the ways you all prepare at your own homes. Is there stocking up of home-canned goods? Do you spend the fall stitching up your family's new winter mitts? Are you steadily sewing away at winter quilts? Plucking out the pumpkins in that garden out back? Setting up new spinach seedlings in the winter garden? What are you preparing for, and how do you manage it?
For me, it's all about assuring a good stock of hats, scarves, gloves and socks. Then there's baking and candy making, with a side of jam and fruit canning, to alleviate all those winter-blues sweet-tooth cravings throughout the season. This year, we're preparing for winter and if not a zombie apocalypse, at least a decent snowfall or two, so there's a good deal of list making and supply closet restocking to do, too. Don't even get me started on the various holiday decorations needing to be pulled from the attic and dusted off for another year's festivities!
And, of course, there's a lot of squirrely behavior. Mostly it's the actual squirrels, drawn by the bird feeder and bold enough to hop onto the porch. At least they haven't learned to knock, yet, like the Stellar's Jays have. But I don't begrudge the beautiful, yet annoyingly persistent, birds or other wildlife the seed; after all, they've got preparing to do, too.