First the book. I’m slowly catching up on my stack of books-to-review. This week I picked up The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, from Storey Publishing. (Disclosure: I know both authors. Which matters not a whit in this case: I’d write the same review regardless. This book blew me away.)
I have dabbled in knitting over the years, and once enjoyed weaving on thumping floor-looms. But I am not a passionate fiber-crafter. So I didn’t expect to fall in love with a book touted as a fiber encyclopedia, covering more than 200 fibers, “from animal to spun yarn.” Until I saw it.
The book is beautiful, chock-full of stunning photos of glistening fibers and the animals that produce them. The layout is lively, with lots of sidebars and graphics. It’s informal, with a kind of scrapbook, but no scrapbook I’ve ever seen is so enticing. (It’s also priced reasonably, at $35 for over 400 heavily illustrated pages.)
It’s the writing that kept me turning the pages of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook though. The breed-by-breed text is not only encyclopedic, it’s passionate and informed, but never preachy, and threaded with fascinating stories about each kind of animal and its relationship to humans, from history and folklore to the art of breeding and the facts of fiber-science. It clearly flows from boundless research and a well of love and respect for the creatures who produce our fiber.
The book also introduces some surprising topics. The first chapter, for instance, “Fiber Fascination,” lays out the authors’ passion for natural fibers in detail, and what could have been a dry, technical discourse is instead an engrossing read, including the slow food/locavore movement as it applies to fibers (imagine being able to dress locally!), and why conservation of livestock breeds we’ve never heard of is important to our future.
Then, the anniversary, not one I ever imagined experiencing. Today marks two months since the love of my life, Richard Cabe, died here in the home he helped design and build for us.
(The photo above is our shadows at sunset on our last trip to Carpenter Ranch in northwestern Colorado, where we were collaborating on a large public garden that will “re-story” the plants that tell the human and natural history of that extraordinary place.)
Let no one tell you that time is linear. It is anything but. My life is so different without my love that it feels like years since his death. At the same time, I can’t believe two whole months have passed.
I’m not bored. I’m pulling together the material for another memoir, revising a book proposal for a practical, personal and spiritual book on living well in hard times, dealing with after-death paperwork (it seems endless), and supervising renovations as I work with Colorado Art Ranch to prepare our guest cottage and Richard’s studio to welcome artists, writers, and scientists in the Richard Cabe Terraphilia Residency program, which will start later this year.
Just as I didn’t imagine ever having reason to note the two-month anniversary of his death, I didn’t imagine being Woman Alone. But I’m content, even happy. It helps that I live in a house full of Richard’s work, from the sink in the guest bathroom he sculpted from a gorgeous pink and black gneiss boulder rescued from a nearby roadside, to the sandstone ledge that juts out of the chiseled block wall behind our bed, my own personal cliff overhang sheltering me as I sleep in the bed he built for us.
Richard and I were swans, paired for life and beyond. Apparently, not everyone understands that sort of enduring bond. I had a very unsettling experience recently with someone I trusted as a friend, and who must have thought “alone” plus “female” equaled “pining for male comfort.” He was wrong.
In some ways, I feel like the amaryllis bud in the photo below, each petal slowly unfolding. I don’t have a clue how long it’ll take me to grow enough cells to bloom in this new incarnation, or what I’ll look like when I do. But I’m determined to bloom well, and long.