How had my life become so encumbered with things that felt so consuming and urgent at home, but which lost their importance or meaning while I was surrounded by such tranquil beauty? I thought a lot about my job, how it had taken over every aspect of my life. True, I loved the nature of what I did. Channeling my creative energy while I worked was exhilarating. It made me feel as though I could accomplish something larger than life, to create an image or expression which had the potential to be seen by countless people and hopefully impact them in a positive way.
But as I sat and thought, breathing in the tangy air, I wondered if the price was too high. For all the wonderful and impactful things that I could accomplish, what had I given up? I hardly ever saw my parents. I rarely went out with friends. I certainly did not date. I had sacrificed my relationships. With the easy excuse that the first years on the job are presumably the hardest and most consuming, I had written off my relationships without even batting an eyelash. And now, three years later, I discovered that the uphill track in a busy firm never slows down or gets easier. The more successful you are, the more you must give up. Was this what I really wanted?
After one of my walks out to the lighthouse, I wandered back to the inn. The sun was starting to set which meant that it would soon be time for dinner, and I hoped it would also mean that I might catch sight of Rusty again. I entered the dining room and was surprised to find Grace at the table laying out an assortment of skeins of what looked like wool, but what I now knew to be alpaca fiber. She was bundling the tightly rolled skeins in brown paper wrappers. On the table was a rainbow of beautiful colors, in addition to the natural shades of the fiber.
Approaching the table I fingered the delicate yarn and was once again impressed with how soft it was. Grace smiled at me as she worked.
“Are all of these from your animals?” I asked.
“Oh yes. They are all hand spun and dyed,” she answered proudly.
“Who does all of this?”
“Why, me of course! We will be shearing tomorrow, so I will have my hands full with all the new fiber to spin.”
I was stunned. For some reason I hadn’t imagined that all of this would be done on site, and all by one very industrious woman.
“I try to come up with new colors each year. Usually they are just variations of dyes that I have already used, but I like to experiment,” she said. I watched her as she rewound a skein that had come undone. Her hands were remarkably graceful as they twisted the yarn around, hardly betraying her age.
I noticed she was wearing another luxurious sweater, this one a dramatic v-neck in an intense variegated orange and pink. To my surprise I noticed little flecks of turquoise peaking out here and there, creating a unique and vibrant illusion.
“You make all your sweaters, don’t you?” I asked, comprehension dawning on me.
Grace looked up in surprise, her long turquoise and silver drop earrings swinging from her movement.
“Of course! I wouldn’t be wearing someone else’s!”
I chuckled at her reaction. Shaking my head, I said, “Rusty is right, Grace. You really are amazing.”
Grace smiled and looked back down at her work. After a brief pause she spoke, still focused on the yarn in her hands. “That’s not the only thing Russell is right about…”
I waited for her to continue, but when she didn’t I prompted her, “What do you mean?”
Still not looking up, she said, “Well, you for example.”
Finally lifting her bright green eyes to my face, she set her yarn on the table.
“Russell is positive that this little project of yours is going to work, it’s going to keep this farm running. But I don’t know that it will work because we have anything more special to sell than anyone else. I know that it will work because of you. You are like magic in this house.”
I was caught off guard by her words, but couldn’t tear my eyes away from her intense gaze.
“I have seen how Russell looks at you, how he can almost sense when you are about to enter the room. There is something special about you, Annie, and I am glad that you are here.”
Grace reached across and touched me lightly on the arm. Looking down at her left hand I saw the intricately designed silver ring encircling her finger, a cascade of swirls and flourishes, almost like waves in the ocean. For Grace, it was a symbol of a lifetime of love and commitment, of passion and the ever-present necessity of change. I thought it was remarkably sensitive and romantic that Reggie would use such a ring to link himself to his soul mate, for the ring was an accurate description of her.
Looking her in the eyes again, I said with conviction. “Rusty is right, this plan is going to work. We are going to keep this farm running, but not because of me. There is something magical about this place. I felt it the moment I pulled into the drive. It comes from a beautiful setting, a rich history to share, but mostly I think it comes from you.”