Washing rugs

I know I'm an unreliable blogger and I do appreciate your interest. In this case my long absence is the result of several home improvement projects and a series of visits from and to friends and family. These activities have consumed over two months, but now our calendar is clear and the writing can resume.

In addition to the busyness of my own life I watched—like you—the many dramatic events filling the airways and the Internet. Two important Supreme Court decisions, the terrible massacre in Charleston and President Obama's remarkable eulogy, and the sudden change of heart regarding the Confederate flag flooded my Twitter feed while I was dealing with workmen or showing the sights to friends. Greece and the talks with Iran competed for attention.

All these events created an upwelling of emotion—surprise, delight, anger, shock—and changes for all of us to assimilate. But change, even when welcome, can be stressful. Meditation helps, but for me nothing is better than focusing on some homey, unchanging, mindless chore that provides obvious results. In this case, I decided to wash the rugs.

rug 1.jpg

If you've been reading this blog long, or have read Tea & Bee's Milk, (and you should) you know that we visited Turkey several times and lived there for a year. As a result we fell captive to the beauty of Turkish rugs and brought several home. Since we try to live simply it's rather embarrassing to admit we have five kilims (flat-weave rugs) and three knotted rugs. Since our house has no room for such bounty, two are loaned out. The others are on our floors or under our bed—and they were long overdue for a washing.

In Turkey such rugs are usually washed in a stream or lake and left to dry in the sun. I had no stream or lake but I did have an empty RV pad and a handy faucet. I also had lots of hot sun; perfect conditions in fact. I dragged the carpets outside, two at a time; filled a bucket with soapy water and a soft scrub brush and set to work. It was glorious.

I filled the brush and splashed it on the first kilim, moving slowly across the pattern and admiring again the handiwork of the woman, or possibly man, who had made it. If one is knowledgeable one can tell immediately where in Turkey a particular pattern was produced. I am not knowledgeable. But I loved the feeling of wet, hand-spun wool under my hands and knees, and I tried to imagine the weaver who had sat at her loom creating the geometric design that appeared, line by line before her.

This traditional art will someday pass, as technology takes over and weavers leave their villages to study and work and become "modern." In the meantime we are graced with lovely handmade rugs that warm my heart—still—each time I see them.

When I had finished scrubbing I turned on the hose. The water on my feet and legs was cooling in the 95 degree sun, and I probably rinsed longer than necessary. Then I called Ray to help me hang the rug on the fence to drip, and turned to the next one.

It took me two days to complete my task and when it was done I felt a great sense of accomplishment, along with a satisfying ache in my knees. Unease had fled.

As I write this, downtown Sisters is filled with hundreds of hanging quilts and many, many hundreds of people strolling the streets, taking pictures, taking notes, and appreciating the beauty of another kind of hand-made tapestry. This is the 40th anniversary of the Sisters Quilt Show and there's no lack of enthusiasm.

Art in any form is a human construct, made with eyes and hands. When the art those hands created connects with us—in the inexplicable way art does—it helps to keep us centered and content. Just as the simple housecleaning task of washing rugs relieved my stress and left me happy, so does a beautiful handmade object touch our hearts and make them sing. I love technology. But it will never make me as happy as an old Turkish kilim.

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