Sagaponack Community Notes, January 23


The onset of more cold weather makes me dig deeper into projects. I mean deeper into the pile of things I have either procrastinated about or not had time for. My sewing machine was buried so deep that I thought I had tossed it, but I found it and undressed it of its plastic shields, to inspect and oil the hardened steel mechanism within. Then I traveled around with a screwdriver to tighten anything I could.I have Carharts to mend, my insulation-lined coveralls. Everything about these coveralls is perfect, except the cuffs are frayed. These pants have zippers all the way down the leg, which means in addition to being made of canvas they have thick and bulky seams; a lesser machine would cough and quit. This sewing machine is simple and rugged, no fancy stitch patterns, pre-computer chip—everything is physical, and with the slow grace of a steam engine we can chug through these demanding stitches.

In the attic of my grandparents’ house, there were barrels of carefully folded, clean but worn out fabrics. It was all matter of clothing but mostly men’s work trousers and shirts. I was not taken so much by the fact that they belonged to a family member as I was to the tooth of the smooth, thick cotton and the sea of overlay. In patches and intricate stitches, the repairs and fortifications that she would have made to his pants were perfect for my punk rock stage. I wore these works of art, mending them as they went into final ether.

Depending on your point of view, the barrel served as the junkyard, or the supply yard. But nothing here was wasted, as clothes were reduced by their buttons, zippers and snaps. Gone to help repair a garment still in use, the ultimate destiny was to be a dust rag, one barrel over. And that’s how it feels when you sit down to sew.

January is a good time to pick a fight, because it can keep you occupied until spring, when you need to get planting again. The interesting thing about the deer cull is that it will do in one night, with one shot to the head, what will otherwise be done on the roads over time. When a deer is hit by a car, the meat is (usually) wasted. When sharpshooters come in, the harvest can be treated as a hunt. Venison goes to soup kitchens, private kitchens, game preserves and wildlife rehabilitation centers.

Ultimately, it is the difference of turning a dangerous accident into a controlled hunt—and isn’t that what we humans are all about?

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