Wednesday, 30 April 2014

mending pile

For as long as I can remember, my Mum has altered and mended our clothes. Sometimes, she may be darning a hole in my Pa's work trousers, replacing a lost button or turning up a new hem on a raggedy pair of jeans. 

The same old biscuit tin turned sewing box still lives beside her Bernina sewing machine in the spare bedroom. Inside, a smaller tin houses dressmaking pins, numerous tape measures and thimbles, all nestling in a wreath of cottons. There are always odd buttons, safety pins of all shapes and sizes and lengths of sheering elastic. The same old pair of dressmaking scissors I was forbidden to touch as a child, "Only for cutting fabric...". And next to a married life time's full of dressmaking accoutrements, sits the mending pile. 

On my first Sunday back home, the April rain is pouring steadily down the window pane. We make a pot of tea and settle ourselves into a corner of the conservatory. Mum threads her needle, I observe. The pitter patter of April showers on the rooftop overhead. Today, her quiet labour breathes life back into my favourite, worn corduroy skirt. She darns the wear and tear around the zip, making it good as new. Mending appears at times a tedious task. But it is a sort of magic, a trick that she has performed for as long as I can remember.

In a while, she will take me back up to the spare bedroom to perform another magic trick: under her watchful eye, she'll help me finally finish my skirt. But for now, as the rain steadily fals outside, I am engrossed as I observe this quiet domestic task. Now it is my turn to turn up, pin and then tack the hem of a new (to me) pair of charity shop linen trousers, just a little too long in the leg. With her calming patience and this gentle industry, she is teaching me to mend and make do. It is re-using and recycling, making do and mending at it's most simple, and most meaningful. 

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