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Wick (Cordova): Week 1 – 22 March

As I get older, I find myself occasionally thinking about the afterlife; more specifically, whether I would pass the selection panel for admissions. What sort of questions might they ask? After all, like any interview, it’s as well to be prepared. But if they began by asking me what interested me in their particular afterlife I would, I feel, need a better answer than the only one I’ve thought of so far, which is “the hours”. Still, if I’m asked to name one selfless deed that would admit me to heaven, I think I’m covered: as every week at the supermarket checkout I’d drop a token into one of the buckets to select a charity they’d donate to. (No, don’t thank me: sometimes virtue really is its own reward.)

There are many theologies, of course, from the Great Wheel of Buddhism (rebirth until enlightenment and nirvana) to the more linear approach of Christianity (existence, limbo, eternity). Einstein famously said that “God does not play dice with the universe”, but I think he—and every major religion—are wrong: the universe is in reality a massive game of snakes and ladders, and (my philosophy in a nutshell) some days you just land on a snake.

Pussywillows in the sun

Meanwhile it’s the spring equinox, a time of rebirth and renewal across the land, and what better way to celebrate than with chocolate easter eggs a new gansey? So while the Dunbeath one is pinned out to dry in the sun, I’ve cast on the long-awaited Wick gansey using Frangipani Cordova yarn (supplied by Deb Gillanders of Propagansey). The yarn is a fabulous shade of blue-grey which should show the pattern perfectly. I’ll say more about this in the coming weeks, but suffice to note it’s another distinctive Wick gansey taken from the Johnston Collection of old photographs.

Choppy water in the river

And if I dream of an ideal day in paradise I wake up to sunshine, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, stroll over to the celestial library’s manuscripts department where a collection of ancient documents is awaiting my attention, spend a happy morning cataloguing, come home for lunch, then sit in the window listening to Bruckner or Vaughan Williams and knitting a gansey till dinner time—throw in a walk on the cliffs, an evening with family and friends and the Red Sox about to pitch another game, and that doesn’t seem like a bad way to spend eternity. Then, of course, I wake up, only to realise that this is basically my life. (Not that I’m saying living in Wick is exactly paradise—heaven surely involves less wind and fewer migraines.) As for the day of judgment, I’ve mentioned before that I derive great consolation from the words of Lin Yutang: “All I know is that if God loves me only half as much as my mother does, he will not send me to Hell…”

11 comments to Wick (Cordova): Week 1 – 22 March

  • Dave

    When you get to the big interview room in the sky, can you ask them from me… did there have to be quite so many snakes and so few ladders. You’ve got me worried now that I haven’t done my interview prep – suppose the Janists are right ? Why did I squish that fly… Ah well, you will have to atone for your lie above – I don’t believe for a minute that it’s sunny enough to dry a gansey in Wick. Have a great Easter with your, ahem, gansey knitting.

    • Gordon

      Hi Dave, we put another shilling in the meter and got some extra sunshine! Picture me poised over the gansey with a magnifying glass, maximising every photon available…

      But that’s enough of your cheek – last time you were here I recall we went to John o’Groats in our t-shirts it was so warm and sunny. Young children come and see me, sent by their parents, to ask me about it, it was so unusual..

  • How wonderful for you to be knitting with our Colorway, just as the land begins to thaw and the fish head our direction. Beginning of season opens mid May …. when the silty waters welcomes both fish and fishermen with their nets and boats, keeping the heritage alive in this present generation. Knit some hopes and dreams for a good season in there if you can, our fleet here in Cordova, Alaska could use one of those. Thank you. Happy knitting to you.

    And didn’t you know? Gansey knitters have a very special place in heaven…

    • Gordon

      Hello Dotty, no pressure then! I now have a title for my autobiography- “Knitting with Destiny (next time I’ll use needles…)”

      You’re welcome to all the good wishes I can spare, which it turns out is actually a lot!

  • Annie

    You have always been held in the highest regard by me since I found your blog, Gordon, but it has now increased by many factors after learning you are a fellow Red Sox fan. Bless you.

    Question: what is more unexpected as a Red Sox fan: a Scotsman or a Texan?

    • Gordon

      Hi Annie, go Sox! I have my MLB subscription fired up and ready for the end of spring training, time to dig out my baseball cap and “fear the beards” t-shirt!

  • =Tamar

    It’s a handsome color. I look forward to the pattern.

    We have had the first day hot enough for me to have to use the a/c in the car to counteract the effect of sun heat on it.

    And as for Einstein, I can only quote Crowley: “Where have _you_ been?”

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, that’s all very well, but could Crowley play the violin, one wonders? 🤔

      It’s definitely spring here in sunny Caithness, but we’ll still have to wait 4 months before a/c is used for anything other than de-misting the windows when it rains!

  • Tina

    Hello Gordon, I’ve just discovered your lovely website and I’m learning lots! 🙂

    I think we all ponder what comes next as we get older (and in my case, from a very young age). When I have asked God directly, He has always said to just trust Him with everything, and not be afraid, which is very comforting.

    Looking forward to the weather warming up for some al fresco knitting, how about you?

    • Gordon

      Hi Tina, you’ll see from my posts that God and I are like friendly neighbours – we talk over the garden fence, and I’ve gone round to borrow his hedge trimmer once, but we’re not yet at the going-round-for-coffee stage…

      Caithness summers are glorious, the light is clean and bright and makes everything gleam. But I’m content to stay out of reach of the midges, sitting in the bay window with the sun in my back, listening to music and knitting. There’s usually a nip in the wind, even in summer, and there’s always a wind up here!

      • Tina

        Gordon, that’s so good to hear. God is a wonderful neighbour, always there and patiently waiting for you to put the kettle on. 😉

        You painted a lovely picture of your cosy knitting space. Is there anything better than the warm sun on your back? Windy here too in rural Aberdeenshire, but we have a sheltered spot or two where I can knit to the sound of the skylarks. Bliss.

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