I have a new favourite animal. Reindeer! I promise you will all have ‘Jingle Bells’ stuck in your head before this paragraph is through, but bear with me. Look how soft their antlers are! On our holiday in Aviemore a few weeks ago, we visited the nearby reindeer herd. We did the cheap option which was a few pounds to go and visit a handful in a paddock. The pricier option looked awesome (head up into the hills to see them in their natural habitat), but we were not prepared for the colder weather up there. However, the cheap option was great. Thanks to the excellent reindeer exhibition I now contain a lot of facts about these incredible creatures. Like, did you know that they really cannot be kept domestically because their diet mostly consists of lichen. Grass is just too rich for them to live off long-term and lichen only grows wild. Also, they are the only deer to have furry noses which stops them from getting frostbite. And, my favourite fact–they have tendons in their feet that rub over bones as they walk, making a clicking sound. In white-out conditions, the clicking communicates their location to the rest of the herd so that they don’t lose energy vocalizing. They are the most docile creatures I have ever come across. So docile one had an entire finger of S.’s up his nostril for a minute before any of us did anything about it.
I finished my socks! They are so cosy and finishing them off makes me want to start a new pair right now. I used this pattern, which I think will be one that I return to again and again… which makes it sound like I knit a lot of socks. I think I started making this pair 3 years ago.
We are living far enough from L.’s school that he has to be driven there and back. I don’t love driving and I have realised a part of the reason why. The drive doesn’t take long enough for it to feel like a proper transition space. One minute we are at school, and the next we are at home. Although in our flat we were only a couple of blocks away, the walk home would be slow and stilted as friends peeled off to their own homes and little things of interest (sticks, stones, creatures, trinkets) came into our frame. This lovely in-between space was one where L. could let go of the school day and I could hear a little bit of it of him without that being the point of what we were doing. What was the point of what we were doing? Well, getting from A to B, mostly. But there were–are–other things stacked on top of that, including time outside, quality time with one another, physical movement, etc. None of which we get with our car commute right now and I am really feeling it. L. wants more quality time than I can give him before dinner. I need more time to myself because car-time is cutting into my alone time. We all need more outdoor mindless movement time because limbs are getting thrown about mindlessly inside. The longer I live, the more I realise that a most of life is about navigating transitions. In fact, I would go so far to say that these transitions are actually the stuff of life–rather than the stuff of life (work, school, dinner, playgroup, small-child-parenting, teenager-parenting, retirement, partnership, death) being the stuff of life, if you know what I mean. I guess this is just the old cliché: ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’. Many religious traditions recognise these liminal spaces as sacred thresholds that reveal truths about ourselves and the world. Celtic spirituality would call them thin spaces where Divine presence touches real life/time and so it is more accessible to us in these spaces. At architecture school, one of the components of most of our projects was the design of a detail. A detail in this context is the meeting of two or more elements that show a transition of sorts. For example, the way two walls of different construction methods or materials come together; or how an opening like a doorway or window transitions between a wet space and a dry one, or between an exterior space and an interior one. These details are specifically designed and studied in part because they need to practically work–nothing lets the rot in or the heat out like a poorly designed roof-wall transition. But they are also important because how they work says something about the architecture as a whole. Yes, they are beautiful in and of themselves, but done well, the make the whole body make sense. So yesterday I started a new transition tradition in lieu of our walk home from school. We run about the garden playing a made-up version of dodgeball for about 1/2 hour. This is not altogether my idea of fun, but it is serving all the purposes–quality time, outdoor time, physical time–so it is life-giving to me in that sense. Annie Dillard can lead me on out: ‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. what we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing’. These small particles of life really are the big parts of life.