Today a man and woman stopped their car to ask me if there were a lot of break-in’s in this neighborhood. They were planning to buy a house here, but when a neighbor saw them driving slowly, checking out the homes, he took down their license plate for suspicious behavior. They started had started having second thoughts. They were moving away from Connecticut to escape the mites. The man had contracted limes disease 8 times. They live on rural property, and can’t walk in their mite-infested woods except after a heavy frost. Snowshoeing in the woods is a rare treat when the mites are safely buried under layers of whiteness. Two young women pulled up in a car while we were visiting. It’s tricky to know who to talk to, but I usually give priority to the folks at the bench. A girl and a guy pushing bikes up the hill stopped to take our picture.
The sun had set and the street light come on, when a woman parked her car on 16th and got out with a longhaired, short-legged black dog. I thought, what a crazy time for a walk, but she had stopped specifically to talk to me. I recognized her face and tentatively said, “Mickey?” It had been at least a year since we last talked. She and her dog had just come from kayaking in the sunset. She told me she remembers the day she first spoke to me. At first, like everyone else, she thought I was crazy. But one day, after volunteering at the school, she decided to walk up the hill to the hospice where her mom was dying. Several other moms who she barely knew offered to support her by walking with her (including R. and G.!) She said that their presence that day had been such a comfort to her. And seeing me knitting was very therapeutic. “Do you remember us talking to you that day?” she asked me. “Yes, I remember it well! It was the first time anyone spoke to me, after 9 days of knitting.” It was the project’s breakthrough when people stopped pretending I wasn’t there knitting a rope across the rope, and started talking to me. Mickey’s mom died shortly afterwards. It’s poignant to me that the first people to speak to me were a gathering of women, supporting their grieving sister whom they barely knew. She was sending her mom on a journey, and embarking on her own–and she was doing all of this in community.
“You’re doing good work,” Mickey told me. “God works in mysterious ways,” I said, and I meant it. She was worried that I had cancer because I’d cut my hair short but I reassured her otherwise!
I told her this 3rd year of knitting has been the most rewarding. “Why, because of the good weather?” she asked. “No, because it took people a long time to warm up to me, but this year, I’ve actually made some good friends.”
“Like me,” she said. “I’ve been waving to you from the car all this time, and today, I finally decided to sit with you on the bench.”
“Exactly,” I said. She gave me a hug and took the wet, cold dog home to bed.