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Another Day in the Country

Finding New Year’s fun

© Another Day in the Country

We’ve made a mark in the sand, so to speak, and declared the last few days “A New Year,” with all its attendant hopefulness.

This Thursday was different from the one a week ago because that was “last year” instead of just “last week.”

How we measure time has relevance in so many subtle ways, that even we do not totally understand. Whether it’s been a loooong time or a short time depends on our circumstance, mood, our time in life, and what we are waiting for — anticipating, or dreading.

I have a calendar that runs from June to June instead of spanning the year between Januarys. It has my student’s art work on it from Centre Elementary, and I love seeing their creativity on my kitchen wall.

So, it was no big deal to turn from December to January. For this calendar, we weren’t starting over with a new look, we were continuing on…which is what time really is all about.

We continue on through the cycles of nature — our own, a reflection of the bigger world around us, each in our personal orbit, flipping the pages of life.

Fifty years ago, right about this time of year, I was worried about the new extra job I’d just taken on to help make payments on a home we’d built above the Napa Valley.

We’d moved into what we jokingly called the “high-rent district.” Owning a home there was going to mean that our youngest child was going to have to be taken care of by a friend while I worked at an extra part-time job. There were way too many things to juggle in my life.

This week, I looked around and thought, “What on earth am I going to do today? I want to do something fun!”

Fifty years ago, I only asked that “fun” question on weekends.

Now, it’s pretty much a daily occurrence. I don’t scold myself for looking for fun because I happen to think that fun is important. It’s the spice of life! It’s enlivening!

As in all of our homes during these closed-up days of winter, there is a long list of things we should do — clearing off, cleaning up, putting away, finding, polishing, rearranging, folding, storing, and taking down Christmas decorations. These are important things that should and would be attended to; but while I enjoy all the before mentioned activities, they aren’t usually in my “fun” category. 

I was lucky, because it turned out to be what I call “California weather” (in the 50s with no wind) that first week of the new year, so I took down Christmas lights and stored them away.

“Good for you, Pat,” I said, congratulating myself for taking advantage of the warm day. “Smart move,” I said as I headed indoors. “Now what?”

Fifty years ago I rarely said “Now what?” unless I was speaking to one of the kids who was pestering me for something.

Now I think back on that pestering as a very delightful experience. Now, I’m the one pestering my family for interaction by texting them.

You’ll never believe what I came up with as an answer to my quest for fun. In fact, for some of you it may not seem like fun at all, but a chore. I went through my cupboard of fabric scraps and began making hot pads. Do you even know what they are? Is there a more current name? Oven mitts?

But these aren’t mitts. They are that colorful, padded, useful, necessary, scrap of cloth that you use to transfer hot dishes from the oven to the table when you sit down to eat.

“Oh, my, are they a dated thing? Old fashioned?”

Well, I consider them absolutely necessary in my kitchen; but then again, how many folks sit down to eat anymore — especially at a table? In an answer to my own question, I think that in the country we are more prone to sit down to a meal at a regular table, at a regular time, than those who live in the city. So, surely, you would need a hot pad.

Back in the day, 50 or 60 years ago, hot pads were a showy, rather frivolous thing. I remember getting crocheted hot pads as a wedding present. Totally impractical and representing a fair amount of work. In fact, there surely are a few of those in a drawer somewhere — never used.

I think they were intended for display, to show what we were truly capable of, instead of what was really useful day to day. Rather like a Facebook rendition of our lives with everything orderly and put in place — our best side, for display purposes only.

I’ve been given a lot of hot pads through the years. I’ve a round one that opens up so you can bake a potato in the microwave with supposedly amazing results. I’ve never tried it but I use it for hot dishes. I have mitts and big bulky quilted ones. I have several that were made on one of those looms with loops of stretchy fabric — in fact, I remember making them as a child but, ever an artist, I disliked the color limitations and quit the craft. I bought several from Amish women that were clever works of art.

And now, here I am making my own. It’s fun, making something out of scraps…my specialty!

“Are you getting a head start on Valentine’s Day?” my sister asked when she saw my hot pad stash setting on the table. “Going to give hot pads this year?”

I hadn’t thought of that — I was just looking to have a little fun, on another day in the country. 

Last modified Jan. 14, 2021

 

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