I'm sitting here reading someone's blog of their year on the 250-mile diet (their more relaxed version of the 100-mile diet), and spinning some sock yarn for Bev, a woman who met me at my farmer's market booth this summer and is now taking my sock knitting class -- knitting her first socks with my yarn.
I'm spinning the yarn and ruminating as I read the blog (did I tell you all I've learned to spin and read stuff on my computer screen at the same time? Bliss.), thinking about this writer's new relationship with a local miller, several local farmers, a local butcher, etc. I'm thinking about how much I enjoy buying a whole loaf of bread from the baker, and asking her to slice it for me. I like buying a cut of meat from the butcher, knowing he created that cut himself. I'm a coffee snob who grinds her own beans just before brewing the coffee, but if I weren't, I'd like buying whole, fresh-roasted beans and asking the coffee person (?) to grind the beans for me. There's just something really nice about picking something whole, something fresh and lovely, and then talking to a real live person who is providing this lovely thing for you, for some final processing of the item. You get to reflect. You both get to feel some satisfaction -- the seller, from seeing that the item that was created with care is being received with appreciation, and the buyer, from knowing that they are receiving something that was made with intent, by a person who has a face, a name, a personality, and a whole life that is now touching yours in this small but significant way.
I reflected on this braid of roving I'm spinning up, and how Bev plucked it off my display line at my booth. She handed it to me, and asked me to spin it into sock yarn for her -- whenever I have time. She told me not to hurry, and I haven't -- we both knew, I'd get to it when I got to it, and we'd see each other several times in the future. There are a few people who regularly make requests for colourways they'd like to see, and there are a few people who see my dyed roving and ask me to set aside a specific braid to spin for them. I had someone ask me to make her "something I can make slippers with...any colour is fine." I made something, and she loves it.
I am very devoted to making relationships as I make transactions. Whenever possible, I eat out at a local restaurant where I know the owner by name, and where my husband attends the informal jam sessions on the weekend. Whenever possible, I buy my meat from the butcher who can tell me which farms each cut comes from, or the one who told me all about when his baby boy was going through a rough crying phase. I buy my groceries from a delivery service that often follows up my emails with phone calls, "just to make sure you're happy with everything," and those phone calls come from the same four or five people, not one of a thousand CSRs located somewhere in the Indian sub-continent.
And now, it seems that I'm on the seller side of some of these relationships. I couldn't be more tickled about it.