The beauty of boredom*

With the city and all its built-in toys and distractions far behind, we spend more time wondering what to do with ourselves. Twiddling our thumbs. Sitting. The To Do list is shorter here** and so one has time to grow bored. I remember my mother talking about how important it was for children to be bored, about the link between boredom and creativity…and I think she was right. So, here in the country, after you’ve exhausted the possibilities that present themselves, weather permitting—fishing, wine-tasting, bicycle-riding, gardening, cloud-gazing, snail-hunting, walking—your mind turns to what you can make with what’s around you.

I’m not a great seamstress or embroiderer, but I love making things by hand. And it feels different here, somehow, to engage myself in this way. A couple years ago, with the patient help of my mother who was visiting, I made a cloth book for a two-year old niece out of dish clothes. The book was bound together with velcro so that she could pull it apart and stick it back together again. Her mother, knowing I liked to work with my hands, had been given me a French book about red embroidery, and so the entire piece was stitched in red and the figures (all farm animals) were modeled on old illustrations I found in the original Mother Goose.

This year, I am “quilting,” if you can call it that. I don’t have the patience to make those tiny stitches you read about in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but I’m doing the best I can. One for each child, made out of discarded clothes, bed linens and scraps of fabric, with some new bits added in to create the desired effect according to their tastes. In the end, they will be reminders of this summer, monuments to the rainy days, the moments in between, and the hours we sat together watching the chilling news of Norway and the on-going American debt crisis. Or maybe those specifics—as vivid as they seem now—will fall away, and the quilts will just be reminders of how we feel about each other. Time will tell. Needle in, needle out, needle in, needle out. Time will certainly tell.

*This title refers not the beauty of what I’ve made, but to the beauty of having the time to make anything at all. If you’d like to see some really beautiful quilting, please visit this site, Mooshkette.
**For various reasons, this summer has not been as “boring” as others. I’m hoping that next summer bores me to tears, and there will be more time for thumb-twiddling, knitting, and, yes, blogging. For more on the beauty of empty hours, please see: “The all important far niente.”

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2 Responses to The beauty of boredom*

  1. bagnidilucca says:

    I love to embroider and make things. I was a clothing designer for 20 years with my own shop. I need to work with my hands on a regular basis or I get twitchy. I love your book and your patchwork.

  2. Joselin says:

    How interesting that you are quilting. I just returned from a trip to visit my parents, and my mother sent me home with a quilt that my great-grandmother gave me when I was little The quilt was made by a great-great-grandmother that I never met, yet the quilt connects me to her in an amazingly tangible way. Who knows what was going on in the world or in her life as she made it? All I know is that her hands are in the sewing, and for me, that is a very powerful connection!

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