Knitting, Legos and Writing

Yes, I am a sweateraholic. One of my favourite sweaters came on a beekeeping jaunt to New Zealand, at least 15 and possibly closer to 20 years ago. I must have gotten a particularly wistful look on my face every time we’d pass sheep on the lush NZ hillsides, as my beekeeper hosts soon suggested we visit an old barn that had been converted into a hand-kint sweater emporium.

And what sweaters they were, hundreds hanging from every wall and displayed on a forest of tables and chairs, woven from the grey and brown raw wools favoured by NZ knitters, crafted by knitting geniuses. One called to me, I purchased it for a ridiculously low price, and have been wearing it happily ever since.

Until, that is, a month ago, when I discovered a hole in the arm. Lori suggested I find a fix-it knitter who might be able to repair my much-loved sweater. A call to a knitting shop led me to Corri, who indeed somehow rewove the sweater back to perfection.

But Corri lives about an hour away from our downtown apartment, and we don’t have a car. Fortunately her husband Andrew works downtown, and I arranged to drop it off and pick it up at his office.

Walking into his office was like walking into the NZ sweater barn, but not because of sweaters. Stacked floor to ceiling, on every available surface, were lego constructions, huge versions of everything from the Eiffel Tower to his favourite subject, replicas of Star Wars battleships, cruisers and the Death Star itself, perfectly rendered. He began lego-ing as a kid, and it just grew; today, he has no more room at home for his pieces, so his office has morphed into Legoland.

Corri with her knitting, and Andrew with his legos, have stuck with me all day. I imagine the clickety clack of knitting needles, beginning with only the idea enclosed within a pattern and growing into a sweater of exquisite beauty. I imagine Corri, relaxed into the rhythm of knitting, focused and relaxed, any anxiety calmed by the click click click of the needles.

And Andrew, going home into his lego den after combatting Vancouver rush hour afternoon traffic, settling in with his building blocks, beginning with an idea and step by step stacking them into a sculpture of tiny plastic legos. I imagine he, also, slowing down and calming, focused only on the next few blocks, infinite patience to put so many small parts together into a coherent whole, the time passing in a state of lego meditation.

Writing is like that. Beginning with the whisper of an idea, thousands and thousands of words to choose from as your building blocks, requiring exquisite patience as an essay, novel, poem or magazine article emerges, constructed much like a sweater slowly knitted or a Federation battleship painstakingly constructed.

Many fear writing, layering it with anxiety, but it can be more like meditation, heart stilled and mind focused, weaving together a tapestry of words and ideas, constructing a magnificent edifice from the simplest of building blocks, word by word.

 

“Dialogue in Bee Time”

I’m very excited about a new book coming out in the fall of 2014, tentatively titled “Dialogue in Bee Time: Lessons Learned from the Bees” (a title which is quite likely to change before publication). It’s being published by Harvard University Press, and ranges from the spiritual to the practical, environmental concerns to urban planning, art to science. It’s a legacy piece for me, and has been the most joyful way I could imagine to reconnect with bees, domesticated and wild. The press has had the book reviewed, highly favourably I’m pleased to note, and I’m currently working on some suggested revisions. It’s a long way until publication, but do stay tuned. As a teaser, here are the first couple of lines from the prologue.

Prologue: Into the Apiary

 Walking into an apiary is intellectually challenging and emotionally rich, sensual and riveting.

Time slows down. Focus increases, awareness heightens, all senses captivated.