Most of my hour of public knitting at the bench nothing happened. Suddenly M. came and sat on the bench with me after his morning walk and coffee. Then J.C. joined us wearing an Alaska sweatshirt which immediately sparked a wonderful exchange. How the waitresses plunked your plate down, a lit cigarette between their fingers. How Alaska has turned into a theme park, with tourists flying hither and yon in helicopters and small planes. The hype. The excellent beer. The fishing. I liked the names of towns…Homer…Talkeetna…J.C. told about the time she and some friends were driving towards a town and it snowed so hard that the road closed behind them. A strong wind blew trees across the road, and the snow fell so thick they couldn’t see where they were going, much less know if they were still on the road. They really thought they might die. A sense of helplessness, of being completely lost, yet still inching forward. Finally, a pair of tail lights appeared in front of them and they followed these lights to their destination. When they arrived, they befriended the driver of that car that they had followed. He worked for National Geographic and the next few days were a fabulous time, hunkered down in the snowy town with nothing to do but eat and talk and celebrate their survival. I sat quietly knitting as they talked, not having anything to add to the exchange yet joyfully reveling in yet another encounter at the bench. Neighborhood happens!
M. left, then J.C. and I sat for a while talking about yarn bombing. She has started making camouflaged things–the most ambitious–a black and yellow striped cozy for the guard rail on the B.C. ferry…I like the idea of invisible art–it runs counter to everything most artists strive for–to get noticed, to stand out, etc. J.C.’s goal is the opposite, a kind of extreme self-effacement like a praying mantis or a moth that blends into its environment, disturbing no one, yet vigilant and alive. She channels her incredible energy into advancing the cause of other artists…helping them get shows, doing fundraisers to buy original art for women’s shelters, teaching homeless people how to make jewelry from recycled or cheap materials. She received the Mayor’s Award for the Arts this year, and I can’t imagine a more worthy recipient. Did she tell me about it? No. Her friend Polly drove up and congratulated her for it. Polly and J.C. brainstormed out loud about how they could connect me with some female, Bellingham directors to create a documentary film about my project. Polly organizes a women-made film festival in Toronto and she thought it would be cool to enter a film about this project too. Maybe it will happen. Do you see how it works? I show up. I knit. That’s all I can do…and that’s enough.