A bowl of Center Island apples, soon to be Barbara’s spicy apple butter.
OUR HERMITAGE, which we call The Nuthatch, is providing a cozy place to nest as the days grow colder.
That’s encouraged my wife, Barbara, to indulge her creative energies in various ways. One example is the new slippers she made for herself using a process called “felting.” She tells me it’s a process many people first discovered by mistakenly putting a prized sweater through a washing machine and having it come out “just the right size for one of their friends’ babies.”
To make her slippers, she first knitted a colorful pair of what might have passed as galoshes for a Sasquatch.
The “before” shot: Barbara’s Sasquatch slippers.
I mean they were floppy and huge. She then put them through the washing machine and dryer, and voilà — or, viola! as I like to say when I’m feeling more musical — they came out soft, smooth and about a third of their original size.
The “felting” part comes because the washing and drying somehow blenderizes the knitted wool so that all stitches disappear. The resulting texture resembles a soft, felt hat. There will be no cold feet in the Cantwell cabin!After washing and drying: felt slippers to keep feet cozy through the winter.
Another of her creative efforts has been a large batch of apple butter. An ancient, gnarled apple tree — probably a century old — near Center Island’s community clubhouse bears fruit that ripens to a glorious crimson blush in late fall. This year’s harvest was larger than usual, and islanders took turns picking apples to go into many a cobbler, brown betty and other delight. After others had their turn, so many apples remained unpicked that we decided action must be taken. We borrowed the community step ladder — an ungainly three-legged affair that towers about 12 feet high — and while Barbara steadfastly gripped the third leg I braved the teetering heights to fill a shopping bag. The result: many jars of locavore, Center Island apple butter, ready to remind us of autumn’s spicy bounty well into the darkest days of winter.
A winter’s day
In a deep and dark
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.— Paul Simon