Yarn Story - Soil

“The green of growing things calms me. Plants stabilize me. And I am interested in the patience that is required as I wait for growth. For the politically engaged person—any of us—such patience is a key to survival. Patience is a kindness that carries me through long days and longer nights.” - Camille Dungy

I have a hard time with summer. I am not a hot weather person- I appreciate the fluctuations of seasons, but prefer the cooler and even cold months. But what I do like about the growing season are the growing things. As I sit at my desk and look out the south-facing window, I can see more than ten different shades of green in the canopy of trees in just the next block, not to mention the span of green reaching down to the Cedar River. And what a blessing that is. 

When I first found Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden by poet Camille Dungy, I was unaware that she wrote the book from Fort Collins, Colorado, very near where I grew up. It was surprising to me because, frankly, Fort Collins is not a particularly diverse city, nor has it ever been in my lifetime. I could smell the air around which Camille writes, but seeing it from her perspective was, well, a breath of fresh air. I am so grateful for her voice.

Here are a couple passages that I couldn't help but to underline and highlight for my future reference- 

"In some cosmologies, worldviews I honor, these fish and birds and butterflies are also people. Living beings, with lives of value. The tree people who found space in that garden not afforded to trees on the average city street. If we felled them, what a high price we would pay. Those trees gave us a different kind of wealth. Carbon capture and a payout of oxygen. A space that absorbed the clang of surrounding streets and enveloped us in a dampened, cooling, calming quiet. A place to rest during the work of resistance, where my body lowered the cortisol spike I suffered the evening before. A place where I reveled in beauty. I can't quantify the economic value of beauty as compared with another human structure in what is now a garden. A garden is never wasted space." 

"My family is the only Black family on our block. In fact, we are one of the few Black families in our entire town, the fourth-largest city in the state of Colorado. By few, I mean that only 1.5 percent of people in this city of nearly 170,000 identify in US census records as African-American. By few, I mean that any time Ray heads out on the bike trails, someone recognizes him by name. Callie is the only Black girl with two Black parents in her 440 student elementary school. This might help clarify my resistance to the kind of suburban American monoculture that the woman in my neighborhood tried to promote via the HOA's yard  maintenance code. A culture that- through laws and customs that amount to toxic actions and culturally constructed weeding - effectively maintains homogeneous spaces around American homes." 

In the blurb at the beginning of the book, Jami Attenberg, author of I Came All This Way to Meet You writes, "Provocative, beautifully written, and wildly informative, this memoir cum manifesto asks us to contemplate our responsibility to our land - and each other. I felt transformed by this graceful and generous book. Camille Dungy's Soil is an instant classic." 

Fans of Katherine May's WIntering will find this book valuable. 

Our featured project this month is the Shakerag Skirt by NellKnits, which Gretchen has already completed. Rather than suggesting a specific yarn, we've decided to let imaginations run wild with this one. Gretchen used Chai by Berroco, which is sadly, no longer available. Other options abound, and we can help you choose! 

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