MSKR 2021 – we needed this!

Good morning and happy Saturday! Ready for summer? It’s a little after 4AM here this morning and the heat has kicked on because it’s only 43 degrees outside and it barely made it above 50 all day yesterday. Add in the rain, and the damp chill seems to penetrate everything and settle right in down to my bones. It doesn’t take much either. I always say it doesn’t matter what the outside or inside temperature is, I won’t be warm until June.

There is one weekend in May that is always an exception though. The same weekend before Memorial Day weekend every year for the last 13 years, with 2020 being an exception, the most incredible group of men gather at Easton Mountain for the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat. No matter what the weather brings, there is a warmth that will envelop you at this retreat and it is inescapable. Not that any of us who attend would even try. In fact, that is what draws so many of us back year after year.

This year was a little extra special for us after having to cancel this retreat in 2020 because of COVID, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it this year were it not for vaccines. Everyone who attended this retreat was vaccinated, as were the Easton residents and staff. We were all given the choice of a button to wear with our name tags to indicate our comfort level for social interaction; either maintaining six feet distancing, fist/elbow bumps ok, or hugs & more, and it’s no surprise most chose the hugs & more.

One of the ramkins (our nickname for new guys who had never been to a men’s knitting retreat before) commented post retreat that he didn’t know he needed the healing that he got from spending the weekend with this amazing group. I think even the small handful of us there who were able to attend the very limited fall retreat felt a little of this healing then, and so much more of it this past weekend. I know I did. This past year hasn’t been easy (an understatement, I know) and our connections to other men in the fiber community have been mostly limited to Zoom gatherings to stay in touch making this return to “normal” at the retreat so necessary for so many of us.

As healing and restorative as it was for so many of us in attendance, there were still many moments during the weekend where it was all a bit too much for me. I am one of those extroverted introverts who needs periodic recharging and this retreat and the connection with this group of men, necessary as it was, was still no exception. I periodically found myself seeking moments of solitude away from the group to recharge and I know I wasn’t the only one. I often found myself in the designated smoking areas with the same couple of people who needed a little break too, and it was a really nice feeling to know that I wasn’t alone in wanting to be alone for a bit. In fact, I think we kind of bonded a little because of that. There were also many moments where I was on the verge of tears, the overwhelmingly happy and grateful kind, and those were the times I sought complete solitude because I had to let them out and no one wants to see me do that.

As always, I took few pictures during the retreat. I’m okay with that too. This was a retreat that will be permanently imprinted in my head and in my heart, and I know I’m not alone in feeling that way.

That’s all for this morning. I’ll have more next week when I’m able to make a little more progress on at least one of the new project I started during the retreat, and some of the other weekend activities that again, wouldn’t have been possible without those vaccines. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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