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Friday, March 21, 2014

"This I Believe..."

Darning a sock.
I believe in mending.

We have lots of sayings that mention mending: we mend fences, broken hearts, friendships.... or so our language says at this point. It seems, however, that we may well loose the meaning in the word as we loose the original meaning.

Farmers I know still mend fences, but how many of use actually KNOW a farmer these days. "Back in the day" everyone mended... cobblers mended shoes, homemakers mended all sorts of things... socks (which is what I was mending today when I was contemplating the act), and every manner of clothing. Every town had a fix-it man who mended broken appliances and tools, if the man of the house didn't have the skill. Most folks had a hammer with a mended handle (at least my folks did) that worked well until it -- the handle that is -- finally could only be helped by replacement.

Mending takes time. It takes caring about the object being mended. It required a mind set that believes things are worth mending... extending their useful life to the maximum... rather than just being discarded before they are totally used up. Yes, the mended shirt or pants won't be "Sunday-go-to-meeting good again, most likely. Most folks can't re-weave a patch that will pass as "good as new" but they will do just fine for a trip to the grocery store, housework, mowing the lawn... everyday use. But instead, we have special clothes for this and special clothes for that and discard them when they develop holes, or stains, or look less than new. It's a pity.

Folks say they "can't afford" to buy good stuff, made from good natural fibers and made by folks -- in this country or others -- who are working for a decent wage. And instead they buy inexpensive, poorly made things of inferior materials -- often produced under sweatshop conditions -- and (a) complain because they don't last and (b) make no attempt to repair them.

I know many, many folks who do not even have the minimal skill to hand sew a small seam that has ripped (even if the fabric is undamaged) or sew on a button that has fallen off! And yet, our language still asks us to "mend" friendships. Where, may I ask, do we get the practice in this skill, if not by taking the time to mend the much easier to fix inanimate objects around us?

Yes, I believe in mending. And in using up, wearing out and making do. I darn socks, patch jeans, fix collars and cuffs, replace zippers, and when all is done, the rag bag is filled with the remains, working zippers and random buttons salvaged, and only bits and pieces go to the landfill. And the rag bag keeps us in cleaning materials. Paper towels need not apply.