Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann

In true EZ style, I knit my way through the family vacation, across the wilderness for days 2-12 of the super vacation. The knitting? It kept me sane. Mostly. I believe EZ wrote in her Knitters Almanac that a shawl was the perfect vacation knitting project. You could knit forever on it and it kept you from killing your family members in pure frustration of spending so much time together in a close space. (I'm pretty sure she worded it a bit nicer than that, but it's a pretty close summary.) Citron shawl in TreasureGoddess hand dyed mohair/alpaca light fingering/heavy laceweight yarn. The ruffle was knit across the entire state of Nebraska and part of South Dakota.

To summarize days 2-12 of the uber family vacation, we did NOT get eaten by bears (though we saw pretty darn fresh bear poo on one of our backwoods trails in Montana). I think both of us parents should get awards for surviving that long with 4 children and a minivan and EACH OTHER for 12 days. There were a few Knit-Sanity-Needing moments, and I'll let you figure out who did what. Most of the trip was pure, relaxed enjoying nature and family time fun.

ONE of us had a major come-upart that included sobbing, cursing, sob-yelling and a wagging of a finger in the other's face and may have included the words "YOU GET YOUR ARSE BACK UP THERE AND GET MY BABIES BACK OFF THAT FUXXING CLIFF RIGHT FUXXING NOW!" or something to that effect. I actually saw a couple hikers coming down with their super backpacks, walking sticks and pack dogs. They stopped, and without making eye contact, quietly backed away in a non-threatening manner. Much like you're trained to do with a momma bear separated from her cubs. (This is not the cliff in the story, see the MOUNTAIN MAN is actually ON the boulder with the young ones this time? Their cliff resembled what's in the background of the photo. Somehow everyone was quite eager to please the momma bear and play by the rules after the "great come-upart". The kids refer to this photo as the one "just after mom lost it".)

ONE of us went onto a puffed-up-with-all-the-knowledge-of-the-world Professorial Explanation of WHY that mountain stream flowing along was "crystal clear mountain waters" and that anyone not allowing the children and him or herself to drink from it was denying the children a true American Experience. Because That's The Way Things Are. Yeah, well ONE of us later had massive exploding diarrhea all night long. The OTHER ONE of us only said, "Huh. How 'bout that" when he or she brought the Professor another roll of toilet paper. After much flushing, it was Explained that even the original Mountain Men would have one night of stomach upset to get their stomachs acclimated to the natural water and after that one night they were officially ready to drink from any mountain stream with no worries. I think the OTHER ONE of us should get a medal because he or she did not point out that this was the stupidist thing he or she had ever heard but just again said "Huh. How 'bout that" and walked away to pick up his or her knitting.

Yellowstone was absolutely amazing. We hiked around most of the HUGE park for a couple of days and even got to stay at the Old Faithful Inn in a suite that overlooked the geyser. It was a rustic inn and had no air conditioning or tv, just nature. It was fabulous. We saw bison up close and personal (one was even walking through the forest next to the parking lot and was about 5 feet away when we stepped through the trees...HELLOOO BUFFALO!, we saw snakes, deer, elk, more bear poo and bear scratches on trees with bits of bear fun in it, but no bears. We saw the campsite where the poor campers were mauled/killed the week before. ONE of us did a demonstration of the bear ripping campers to bits for the children and the OTHER ONE of us did a quiet eye roll in a dignified fashion.

We spent about 4 days in Montana near Red Lodge and in the Bear Tooth Mountains and even had 55 people at a family reunion. There was a "kids" baseball game that lasted for about 2 1/2 days including everyone from the about 6-26yrs old and a few dads here and there. There was full-body-contact croquet (our kids play a bit rough and introduced this sport to the others.) There was much running amok screaming, playing, giggling and drinking pop until midnight and then not being able to settle down until 3am. Parents were able to sit around sipping a beer, knitting, chatting and enjoying the sounds of all our kids playing and remembering our own childhoods of doing pretty much the same thing with cousins on Grandpa's farm in western Kansas.

All that and mountain scenery too? And did I tell you there's NO BUGS THERE? NOT ONE SINGLE TICK and I think all of us together had maybe ONE mosquito bite. TOTAL. I tell you, it was THISCLOSE to heaven. Can you imagine waking up, sitting on the porch with your knitting, a cup of tea and THIS as your scenery?

EZ had it figured out. Nature and family and knitting. Although I'm pretty sure she never lost it in a fit of rage/sobbing/cursing fright up on the mountain top. I did realize that it's a good thing I use circular needles as I'd have jabbed the CRAP out of that poor husband of mine if I'd been armed with a regular old metal straight needles in the backpack. Hmmmmm. Maybe there was a side of the laid back, relaxed, feisty old woman EZ that we didn't know. She used circular needles for almost everything too....... Naa, I just can't see it. I need to channel more EZ and less craZY on the next family vacation. Happy 100th Birthday EZ! You inspire us even today. In knitting and in facing the wilderness with a sense of calm and how one stitch after another can calm the soul.

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