Creature of Comfort

I woke up at 6 this morning, which is uncharacteristically early for me, both in the time before and the time after. Our youngest is just two, so Eric and I both been stealing sleep from around the edges of the day for at least as many years. Most of the time, our night-before ambitions for the morning, are tempered with the thought, “well, it depends on how tonight goes.” Last night, the two year old ended up in our bed, sleeping tucked up against my chest on top of my arm. Still, I had set my alarm so that I could attempt to make bagels this morning. The dough is (fingers crossed and a pray for the intercession of Saint Honore) rising in a draftless corner of the kitchen right now. We can buy consistently good, fresh bagels not much further than a mile from our house but the cost-benefit equations have been flipped. Is it easier to run down to the store or to set an alarm and make the darn things myself? So here we are.

There was a time when kneading dough for fifteen minutes at 6:30 am would have seemed needlessly arduous. This morning, I didn’t even turn on the radio to distract myself from the work. I just got on with it, much to my surprise. It’s been like this these days, an endless series of unexpected and sweet revelations about myself, my husband, my kids, life even. The nearly 7yo came to me yesterday morning and asked why, in some places, 30 degrees is warm but here it’s cold. “Is it like backwards or something in other places?” she asked. This launched us into a discussion of imperial versus metric, which lead us back to different measurement scales. Later on, I sat with Ms10yo while she worked on algebraic fractions. I showed her what I knew, step by step with pen and paper, and then together we worked through how she could use the gem-like plastic pieces from her “Hands on Equations” to solve for y.

Learning is comforting. There’s just something that soothes the soul with the repeated revelation of “oh, here’s one more thing I don’t know!” I don’t know everything nor do I need to. And each new little piece of knowledge or discovery is a reassurance that there’s even more to know around the next corner and the next and so on.

And making, creating is another comfort.

I’ve been making food and socks, and the process has been immensely comforting. Even more so has been the completion of each project. “Oh, yes, that’s right: I am capable of learning and making.” I signed up for a sock yarn of the month club from Farmers Daughters Fibers and my first skein arrived a few weeks ago: a gentle yellow called “Sea Nettle”. Eric and I keep bees (well when they’re not dying) and this yarn color reminded me of honeycomb. This free pattern from Emily Bolduan was in the “to knit” folder in one of my mental filing cabinets and this yarn seemed a good fit. It’s my first pair of toe-up socks which has so far involved a new (to me) cast on method and German short rows for the heels. Each of the individual cells of the honeycomb are comprised of little cables. After reading the pattern and then completing a few rounds, there’s an immensely satisfying moment when the gears seem to slip neatly into pre-assigned cogs. The pattern is revealed and I no longer have to rely on the written instructions but can read the round that I just completed which will tell me what I need to do next. It’s immensely satisfying.

Just as cooking a good meal, especially unplanned and with what I have on-hand purchased, no less, by Eric on one of his weekly or sometimes even fort-nightly (it is appropriate that I just unintentionally inserted a k before the n in that word) trips to the grocery store, is immensely satisfying. It’s a gift that my options for meals I will prepare have been so severely limited to what Eric happened to bring home. It is as if having too many choices and options left me feeling like whichever one I made was always the wrong one; or else I would be paralyzed by (ultimately meaningless) options. How many minutes, hours, days have I cumulatively wasted staring at shelves and shelves of products trying to make up my mind: salted or unsalted? Organic or not? Eric shops quickly and efficiently, taking what’s available with no second guessing. And somehow, of course, it always comes together for food and meals together at home.

And the bagels? Well, they finished while I was writing this. And they were delicious. And not to hard to make.

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