Last season's leaves hanging like wet socks on a clothesline

“American beech leaves hang like socks on a clothesline, and they remain there, becoming almost translucent, until early spring.”
— Nancy Ross Hugo, Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

Sometimes words are written so vividly that you can immediately hold an image of the subject in your mind’s eye.  That’s what happened when I read the passage above for the first time.  I liked the descriptive simile so much that I copied the words in my commonplace book.

Our Minnesota woods does not have American beech trees that I know of, but I did find other leaves hanging like wet socks on a clothesline.  They, too, were almost translucent in this late-winter season.

Leaves pegged to a woody clothesline

Lone leaf like an unmatched sock

Icy leaves before the thaw

Aged to translucence

Darning Socks

September 18, 2011

“Tending the things around us and becoming sensitive to the importance of home, daily schedule, and maybe even the clothes we wear, are ways of caring for the soul.”
— Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

Hole in one of my favorite socks

I admit that I rarely darn socks.  I do wear socks until they get holes in them, but it is too easy just to throw them away or make them into rags and buy some new ones.  But these blue snowflake socks are one of my favorite pairs.  They go well with my most comfortable blue jeans.  So I took a few minutes to repair them.

I didn’t have suitable thread, so I found some embroidery floss in a color that almost matched.  The darning didn’t take long at all, and now my socks are good to go for another cold season.  A satisfying project!

Turn the sock inside-out and position a darning egg under the hole.

Darning is like weaving -- across and up-and-down, the needle going in and out.

The small woven patch is complete. Now hide the ends of the thread.

Turn the sock right-side-out. All done.

Mended sock. Good to go.


Doubly Good Socks

February 3, 2010

My favorite socks (not handmade)

I love colorful socks.  My current favorites are a rather subdued blue, like well-worn blue jeans.  I love the following poem by Pablo Neruda, in which he pays homage to some warm, woolen socks:

Ode to My Socks
by Pablo Neruda

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.