28 June

Wool To Yarn, The Pandemic Way

by Jon Katz

We go to see Deb at the Vermont Fiber mill two or three times a year, she and Maria sit down and figure out just what Maria wants to with the wool, how much yarn, how much roving, and in what colors.

Maria’s focus is always on her art, but like all successful artists, she must be shrewd about money to survive. She keeps an eye on what sells and what doesn’t sell, and over time, very little doesn’t sell.

What usually happens is that we go into Deb’s office and sit down. I usually walk outside or with a dog. In hot weather, I don’t bring the dogs, especially Zinnia, who is sensitive to the heat.

Deb told us there were new protocols. We pull up to her office, call her on a cell. We can’t go inside now. Deb comes out in a mask and we are required to wear masks.

We put the wool down on the ground next to her door. Deb will leave them in a separate room for a few days to make sure any virus or bacteria is gone. Maria filled out a form for each color and sheep.

She knows what people want by now, and she knows the nature of the wool of everyone one of eight sheep. Liz wants to give us two more. That will make Maria’s yarn and color choices even more interesting.

We kept a distance of between eight and ten feet. We have known each other for a few years, we talk about the pandemic, and how it has changed our lives.

When we are done, there are none of the usual hugs or taps on the shoulder. We wave goodbye leave the wool behind and drive off.

Deb thinks this may go on for years, even though Vermont has had very few infections (most from New Yorkers with second homes in Vermont) and very few deaths.

Everyone is worried about the summer when the tourists and second homers show up.

I’m inclined to agree with Deb. It may be years before the country can be fully vaccinated. Some doctors say this is our way of life now.

So many people are bewildered and frightened. We are adjusting, all of us are, despite the mixed signals crashing down on us from everywhere. I still rely on our governor, Andrew Cuomo.

I still feel he tells us the truth, every single day.

It was lovely driving to Vermont, visiting our friend Liz on her farm, seeing Maria’s business side deepen in confidence and skill. All she does is grow and create, pandemic or not.

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