Thursday, March 1, 2012

how it unwinds

Trip to post office today yielded one skein of hand-dyed Hand Maiden Casbah in "safari". The blend of merino with a touch of cashmere is soooo soft. I've wanted to try it for some time and finally ordered it, hoping I'd like the color. I love it - it feels so right for the season. Can't wait to find out what this luxe yarn wants to be.

March mitts
Until then I'll work on the next pair of mitts in soft English wool (Marion Foale). I've given myself the whole month to complete them. This yarn shows off the cables and lace pattern very well.
extreme winds
I know there has been some cruel weather around the country recently so my problem with wind seems wimpy by comparison. However, it seems I'm susceptible again (not since childhood) to strong cold wind blowing in my ears and causing stinging little pains and lightheadedness bordering on dizziness. Drained of energy yesterday as a result, I surrendered to dozing and reading while the wind howled outside and Spike wouldn't leave my side, stubbornly refusing to go out. Feel fine today, but my head is now filled with nostalgic thoughts.
form and content of nostalgia
I reread Pete Hamill's wonderful 2004 book Downtown: My Manhattan. He defines nostalgia in a way quite different from the usual meaning. Rather, it's a nostalgia based "in the abiding sense of loss that comes from the simple fact of continuous change". Nostalgia can erupt any time by seeing or hearing something from the past, but that to dwell upon it without cease would be to live as a bore. "New York," he writes, "teaches you to get over almost everything".

Hamill is a few years older than me, but much of what he captures of his youth in the 1950s and early 1960s, coincides with my memories and experiences of Manhattan at that time. The book is much more than a memoir. It is a blend of city history, myths, places, people, flows like a novel and informs like a guidebook. Hamill is a brilliant writer.
He mentions at some point those Books I Thought I'd Read When Young. I could relate. Who remembers all of them? the books from the Bookmobile, the NY Public Library, the Parkchester Library? The paperbacks I read on the subway to and from school and work. The ones bought at grade school Scholastic book sales. My mother always gave me enough money (not much in the olden days) to buy one novel and one classic. Hamill says about classics that they feel like new books when reading them for the second [or third] time, after having lived a life. So now I'm reading Huckleberry Finn on my Kindle! (He said in an interview that he reads it once a year!). I read it when I was ten and Shirley across the street loaned me her copy. She wore glasses (I didn't) and I loved the way she pushed them back on her nose when they slipped. I convinced myself (and tried to convince my mother) that I needed glasses.  Alas, eye tests at school always came out 20/10. I finally needed reading glasses  in my 30's and they were more nuisance than magic.

Certain tiny restaurants in the Village, or wanderings through the Metropolitan Museum, or trips to the Five Spot to hear Thelonious Monk. We could remember a time when we were so young that we thought the things we loved would last forever.
                                                                               Pete Hamill