My grandfather, Winthrop “Wink” Ashworth, has been on my mind a lot this week. With the changing of the seasons in my little village of New Gloucester, Maine, I have reflected on all of the transitions we make in life as we are birthed into this world fresh and new and, later (depending upon how you see things), as we prepare for a quiet hibernation to rest or renew or retire our bodies, minds and spirits.
When I was born, my grandmother Anne Ashworth, founder of Green Mountain Rug School, hooked me a beautiful little scene that could be straight from Norman Rockwell’s sketchbooks. To me, this little fiber village looks like New England in its radiant summer glory full of hope and abundance and possibility; much like the life ahead for a newly born granddaughter. As the years passed, both Anne and Wink brought me to many similar villages from Saratoga Springs, New York where we showed the majestic horse Rob, to Tunbridge, Vermont where we stacked wood and celebrated holidays, to Wenham, Massachusetts where we paid homage to our forebears and the beginning of many journeys.
It is with particular fondness that I remember the years when I traveled to an empty home in the town of Rockport, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean just north of Boston, where I received support from an unexpected place. My heart was heavy with loss and those around me seemed inextricably bound to the comings-and-goings of their own lives so I began a lonely journey of cleaning out until I happened upon another couple of solo travelers. My grandfather Wink, now a widower, and his trusty companion, the gentle Newfoundland “Tarby,” suddenly shared quite a lot with my 24 year-old self: we had time, spirits of wanderlust, and really no one else with whom to travel. As luck would have it, to get to Rockport from Vermont, we snaked through many of my grandfather’s old “haunts:” beautiful villages scattered in the heart of New England. I heard the stories of my grandmother, a strong-willed woman who played polo when it was unheard of for a lady to do so; of their courtship; of the war; of family feuds; of regrets and of triumphs. We ate fresh fish sandwiches and did the work of remembrance and mourning and healing together. Although I’m sure she hadn’t quite foreseen it, my grandmother had given me a talisman of sorts in this rug. Sometimes it takes not only a village, but a family…
Much love to my grandfather, Wink Ashworth, as the seasons change.
Wink Ashworth, Emrys Conrad Coe, and Cecely Conrad