Wednesday, June 11, 2008


From Wikipedia

Thigmomorphogenesis is the response by plants to mechanical sensation (touch) by altering their growth patterns. In the wild, these patterns can be evinced by wind, raindrops, and rubbing by passing animals.

Touch. I love the sense of feel. I can't garden with gloves, I mix meatloaf and pie crusts with my hands, I once got a double case of 2nd degree burns when I couldn't resist grabbing two fist fulls of soft white sand that had somehow appeared in our dirt driveway. The "sand" was freshly dumped ashes from the wood stove.

Last week I spent a few nights with my 90 year old grandparents. My grandma is slowly going blind and her bones are stiff from years spent ranching, raising family, doing things the hard way. She's always been the cook in the family. She's never owned a stand mixer or a food processor. She cooks by feel. She baked 20 pies for my wedding. She baked them by herself, in one day. She used her hands and a fork to make butter and flour into crusts that people still talk about when our summer-camp style wedding comes up.

Now, she feels for her way around the house. She walks close to walls and her hands slide along, around corners, over counter tops. Her hands are beautiful. And when I think of them, my mind goes to how they feel in my hand--bones and vein--delicate with these amazing strong nails she's always had. How they look never pops into my mind before they way they feel does. I've always held her hands. And I'm not a hand-holder. But I can sit next to her and hold her hand all day.

When I attempt to lay out my small list of accomplishments, I think of things I've shaped with my hands, things I've touched and made better. Times I've handed someone something they really needed, times I've made a meal, dialed a phone, cleaned up a mess. Why does "homemade" sound kind of simple and precious, but "handmade" sounds like quality?

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