On being ... crafty

By Ingrid Sapona

I don’t know if you saw the news video in November about a woman in Australia who ran into a fire to rescue a koala bear. The poor little guy was singed and traumatized and it whimpered as she splashed water on its burnt paws. It was one of those stories that’s both heartbreaking – seeing this animal disoriented and in pain – and heartwarming – seeing someone fearlessly head into a bushfire to try to help a wild animal.

The desire to help animals is nothing new, I know – that’s what organizations like the SPCA are all about. But this particular act involved bravery and selflessness of a different sort. To me it was an uplifting example of what differentiates humans from other species, not to mention showing humanity at its best…

About a week after the koala rescue story there was an article in The Conversation by an Australian academic titled, “Crafting in times of crisis helps critters and creators”. I wondered if it had something to do with the rescuing of animals from the wildfires in and around Sydney. In fact, it did. In the wake of the horrendous fires and the suffering they are causing to lots of animals, thousands of knitters, crocheters, and sewers mobilized. Apparently they heard (or knew?) that rescuers use pouches to soothe and keep rescued animals quiet as they are cared for. (The pouches aren’t just for rescued kangaroos and other marsupials.)

The article mentioned a similar mobilization in 2012 when German knitters crafted 40,000 (!) sweaters for rescued penguins from Phillip Island. (The sweaters were put on the penguins by rescue workers after spilled oil washed onto their feathers. Covering the penguins prevented them from licking their feathers and ingesting the toxic oil before the rescuers had a chance to clean the penguins with soap.)

Interestingly, the article also talked about the therapeutic benefits of such action for the crafters, especially in the face of traumatic events, like the raging wild fires in Australia. Crafting helps you focus on something positive and provides a sense of accomplishment, both of which can help ease anxiety. As well, creating something that’s needed helps the solitary crafter feel part of something larger than themselves. As someone who has always enjoyed making things with my hands, the idea of crafting for a cause really speaks to me. (And, if I’m honest, makes me think I should learn how to knit!)

Stories of people showing compassion toward other species – whether by running into a fire to rescue an animal, or by crafting something to help with the rescue effort – pretty much embody the Christmas spirit, don’t you think?

Now, for those who might want a little extra time to want to get back to some Christmas crafting – or other acts of compassion and kindness – I thought you’d appreciate a shorter column than usual.

Happy Holidays to you.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


Post a Comment

<< Home