Sunday, December 19, 2010

Church, Sapin Noël, and Left-Handed Knitting

Singing today at the church service went fairly well. The whole service was devoted to dressing the Christmas tree (or as I learned from Adrian's French WWOOFers, the sapin Noël). Skye and Finn and I got there early and helped set up the sanctuary and Christmas tree. My duties included stringing lights around the tree, tying it to the pulpit so it didn't fall over, and and wrapping the top few branches of the poor pine tree up with twine so the star had a firm enough base to be wedged down upon. While using a pair of scissors to cut excess needles and branch tips out of the way, it occurred to me I was literally trimming the tree!

St. Peter's is too small to employ a minister, so several members of the church parish take turns leading the service. Today it was Rosalie who presided, and she led us through the different aspects of the Christmas tree and their meanings. After each item a member of the congregation would step forward to deliver a relevant bible passage reading, then the congregation would sing a carol, and the children present would come up and place the aforementioned objects on the tree, as follows:

Lights - Symbol of Jesus, the light of the world
Bells - Symbol of good news
Peppermint Sticks - Symbol of the Shepherds
Star - Symbol of the Wise Men
Gifts - God's Gift to Us
Coloured Balls - Symbol of the fruits of Christ's coming

Once everything was on the tree, I stood up to sing; the words to the chorus were printed in the service sheets, so the congregation joined in, which was quite nice. I felt my voice was somewhat shaky, but I received many kind comments during the tea and coffee after the service, so I imagine it didn't sound too bad. Adrian told Skye he felt my voice was beautiful and mannered, but still retained the innocence and purity of a child's, which made the song that much more poignant. I think he may have been laying it on a little thick, but it's always nice to receive a compliment. :-)

The weather was miserable again this afternoon; after a mid morning wind and a few promising patches of sunlight, a blanket of heavy cloud swept in over Waipawa, and rained steadily up until 7pm or so. Take ten degrees off the thermometer and the weather would be comparable to back home! I spent the afternoon reading, and finished the quilt of squares I had been working on (that makes three I've finished in the time I've been here). 

At 5:30pm Skye and I headed up to Warwick and Elizabeth's to learn how to water their property and feed Tiger, as they leave for their other house in the Coromandel for Christmas tomorrow. Warwick gave me a big hug and thanked me again for playing and making music with him. He's such a sweet man; I do hope I manage to see him again before I leave New Zealand.

My challenge this evening has been teaching myself to knit (or at least attempting to). My Grandma Taylor tried to teach me once, years ago, and ran into the usual problem of me being left-handed; I was able to do it right-handed under close supervision, but when I took the knitting home and tried to keep going I ended up knitting backward and making a mess of things. I learned how to cast on stitches by watching a video on the internet and then mentally reversing it for myself, and then Skye showed me how to knit right-handed. I watched carefully, tried knitting right-handed for a few rows, and then ripped it all out and started over again, trying to get myself to perform the mirror image of what I had just been doing. (You may wonder why I didn't just keep knitting right-handed. Two words: very awkward.) I've ripped out and restarted at least ten times, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it. Skye was most impressed that I was able to teach myself to knit left-handed; I just smiled at her. From shoe tying to conducting, while it may be a bit of a fight to get there, I know in the long run it will always be easier for me to do things the way my brain laterlization makes me naturally want to do them.

Tomorrow morning Skye and I are going to Hastings to do a little shopping... ooo, time in the "big city"! (at 75 000 people it's the biggest settlement in Central Hawke's Bay). After sleepy little Waipawa, even Chemainus would seem huge!


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