Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The year of knitting anxiously

I've always been aware of psychological issues that come into play when I--and perhaps others--knit.  One is that of tension release. When I'm anxious or stressed, knitting offers great relief. ( I wrote about this for More Magazine in 2004. "What to Do When You're Cast Adrift" discussed knitting as a way to ease out of a toxic job.)

Thus, when I looked out my study window yesterday morning and saw that the Wood River wanted to spend some time at my house, I knew it was time to pack up my knitting and take refuge at our apartment in Providence. I was absolutely certain that I could not survive the next few days without my knitting, and in fact since I barely slept at all last night, I was able to finish the entrelac scarf begun in mid-February.

We had tried to flood-proof, because living near a body of water has obvious perils, even though until yesterday we were technically beyond the hundred-year flood plain.  Every spring there's flooding in the basement to the depth of a couple of inches. The heating units, the freezers, the workbenches, are all raised on cinderblocks. A sump pump automatically starts when its chamber fills with water, and it does a good job of clearing out. What was not anticipated was that some fieldstones in the older (ca. 1932) part of the foundation would give way to the water's pressure, and open a hole in the wall through which the Wood River could pour. A couple of hours after this happened, the basement was filled to a depth of four feet, and our freezers were bobbing like ice floes.

There is nothing in the basement I care about losing.  It's just stuff, and it can be replaced, even though the replacing will be expensive.  What's making me frantic is knowing that my instruments--my harpsichord and piano--are potentially endangered.  H doesn't believe the water came up to the first floor because our basement ceiling is extremely high. But I won't stop worrying until I really know. My instruments are beloved friends, and in the case of my piano, a friend who's been with me since 1969. We're talking about a forty+ year relationship.

Right now we can't get back to the house to check, because the interstate and some side roads are closed from flooding.  We keep watching the news, the webcams, the online reports about river cresting and road closures, and hoping there will be a way to make it down there, 35 miles south of Providence, later today.  The rain has finally stopped, but it's still cloudy, so the drying-out is going to take a while. We drove here in H's pick-up truck, because we knew we'd have to ford water and our cars were too low-slung.  The last view I had of our road as we pulled out the drive past the police barricade, was of someone's red car slowly floating towards the dam, about a tenth of a mile distant.

Readers, Lola and Fiordiligi, our twenty-year-old granny cat, came with us, but I left the boys--Kramer, Rufus, and Alfie--in the house, with plenty of food, water, and litter boxes, reasoning that we'd be home within a day or two. I hope you don't think I'm a bad pet-mother, because I feel slightly guilty about my prioritization and it wouldn't take much condemnation to send me over the edge. We had the electricity cut from the meter so that nothing would short out, but cats don't care if the lights are on or off at night. Now we're thinking that we'll have to move the boys to the apartment, as we may be staying here for a few weeks.

Here's where another aspect of knitting psychology enters the picture--magical thinking. We all know the good energy that goes into knitting a garment for someone for whom we care. We all know the bargaining-with-the-universe aspect of knitting for someone whose life is at risk (I have several times made sweaters for friends who faced terrible diseases or situations, like divorce, and guess what? They all lived!) 

Last night and early this morning, as I knitted the entrelac scarf, I could think of nothing but my beautiful instruments, and hope for the best, sending my love towards them with each stitch. It was knitting as meditation, magical thinking, and prayer, a beseeching of the cosmos.   I sincerely hope it works.


1 comment:

  1. Here is hoping everything is well when you get home....