Monday, January 31, 2011


Picnics in meadows with spring flowers and cow pies. Walks in ferny glens. Skinny dipping in cold mountain streams. Vacations on the Jersey shore. Hiking in the Swiss Alps. These are my best memories of my father's sister, Aunt Jane. She had a degree in botany from Mt. Holyoke college, way back in the day when women didn't do that. She was invariably generous, proper, polite, and patient. On the very rare occasions when she did get annoyed, her most extreme epithet was "Well! Mercy!"

She liked children, but never married or had any of her own. This worked out very well for my sister and me, because she lived nearby, and she liked spending time with us. She was constantly conspiring with my parents to take us on "outings"- usually picnics or hikes in wild places- which we city kids absolutely adored. It was from Aunt Jane I learned how to tell Dutchman's Breeches from Bleeding Hearts. She knew a lot about birds too, and so from her I also learned how to tell ibis from egrets, pipers from plovers. Her love of nature embedded itself in our hearts, and got passed on to the next generation- my and my sister's children- as well.

Aunt Jane taught me how to pee in the woods! Aunt Jane taught me to knit!!!!

As the years flew by, Aunt Jane moved to a retirement community, and arthritis slowed her down. My interest in knitting blossomed, and I made her a lace Faroese shawl to take the chill off those winter evenings in Pennsylvania. It seemed appropriate that it had little lace flowers on it! This is it on the blocking board. It was a beautiful soft wool, sort of plum colored. Aunt Jane loved it!

More years flew by, and Alzheimer's stole her memories. Aunt Jane gave away the shawl to an admiring stranger in an act of spontaneous generosity. I was sorry to lose it, but remain glad to know that someone somewhere loves it.

I'm in a shawl-making binge right now (have you guessed?). It's time to make another Faroese flower shawl. I'm making it out of the exact same wool, but this time it's lilac in color, and I'm going to place beads in the edging. Here is a photo, but it sure doesn't look like much now! I know it won't really "bloom" until after it is finished and blocked.


1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story about your aunt and the memories you have with her. I'm sure that beautiful shawl is having a good life with someone out there.