As I’ve mentioned before everything moves a little slower this time of year. Our days consist of doing chores and projects we don’t have time for in the summer. Bill is often fixing a piece of machinery or working on the house while I do paperwork, help the kids with their work or organize something – usually the kitchen. With all of us home a lot, the kitchen is hardly ever neat and tidy – but I try!
This weekend we will attend a vegetable grower conference in Madison. There will be information presented on growing different vegetables as well as presentations on tools, growing in greenhouses and cover crops. We look forward to continuing our learning. That is always our goal – to add to our knowledge base and become better farmers. It is also good to spend time with other people doing the same thing we are.
Last weekend we spent Bill’s birthday at my sister’s plarn event. In case you don’t know what plarning is, it’s the process of folding, cutting, and connecting plastic shopping bags and then crocheting or knitting the resulting plarn into sleeping mats for the homeless. The lightweight mat cushions the body and is easy to roll up and carry during the day.
Some say working with yarn, or in this case plarn, is relaxing, even zen-like. Not for me - sitting still, picking up stitches, and creating these links stresses me. I get anxious to reach the end of the row so I can turn back, all the while feeling I will never finish. After a couple of times back and forth the three-foot width, I feel like a hamster in a wheel and have to quit.
But if I’m honest with myself, maybe it isn’t the actual act of crocheting that frustrates me. Maybe I’m frustrated because plarning brings me face to face with my acceptance of homelessness. My complacency makes me uncomfortable.
The life Bill and I have created isn’t one of luxury. We’ve experienced life without health insurance, we don’t have extra money to take vacations, we know what it is like to be behind on regular household bills, and to deal with late fees that make everything worse. But we don’t want for much. The truth is we are lucky. Lucky to have each other and our kids, lucky to have our family that supports us in countless ways, lucky to not only own a farm – but one of fertile ground and a creek to boot, lucky to have food, lucky to be in a country that isn’t ravaged by war, and lucky that our government protects our right to march in civil protest.
Yet, it is still a country where some have to sleep in the streets, and the best I’m doing about it is making a mat. I wonder if plarning is a way of falsely assuring myself that my family and I will never be in such a position. We are different . . . right? This would never happen to us . . . right? But are we? Bad luck, illness, and misfortune can fall on any of us, at any time. Many of us are only one crisis – health or financial - away from a much less fortunate life. We try to safeguard, but we can’t predict the future.
I imagine how cold it must be to sleep on the concrete – even on a plarn mat. I imagine waking up stiff, my bones aching, wondering where to find my breakfast. And I realize I can’t be complacent. Outrage is the more appropriate emotion, and action is the antidote to acceptance.
I need to finish my mat, maybe even start another to fuel my outrage so I can take action. And while I inform myself about this issue, I will make calls to my representatives – what is a few more calls these days?
If you would like join me in being outraged or learn more about plarning, please let me know.