Treena Mielke

Mielke: Small things make a big difference

It sure is cold out, isn’t it?

That seems to be the common refrain coming from the lips of all of us disillusioned, disgruntled, unhappy Albertans.

We are sick of winter. Sick and tired of it, for goodness’ sake.

We want sunshine, weak and fragile as it may be. We want to see our thermometers at least get up over the zero mark, for crying out loud.

We want to put away our winter jackets for the last time. At the very least, we want something else to grumble and complain about like rain or the fact that the winter kill on the golf course made the fairways bumpy.

But, no, the focus of our discontent at the moment seems to be the cold, the unrelenting, merciless cold and the long grey days devoid of even a hint of sunshine.

I must admit, that I, too, had fallen into the mindset of the grumpy. In fact, recovering from COVID left me not only cold, but extremely tired. My only reprieve was to crawl under my beautiful, heated blanket on the couch and succumb to NETFLIX.

That was when I got the phone call.

“Do you want to go help make ribbons for Ukraine?” my girlfriend asked me. “We could go grab a bite to eat first.”

I had no idea how to make ribbons for Ukraine nor was I convinced that I even wanted to. I chose to ignore both those facts.

“Sure,” I texted back, including a little happy face icon.

And so, it came to be that my girlfriend and I found ourselves sitting at in the art room at the local high school facing a mountain of blue and yellow lengths of ribbons and a handful of ladies.

We were few in numbers, but all who were there had a job to do.

“You can sew or staple,” we were told.

It turned out I was to be the sewer. The idea was to take these little blue and yellow ribbon pedals and sew them together, so they puckered exactly right and turned into lovely flowers. A button was then glued into the middle of each flower to cover up the stitches.

I smiled and proceeded, groaning inwardly.

Suddenly I was taken back to my Grade 7 home economic days. I was raised in a bachelor pad. The genteel art of sewing had somehow escaped me.

But, even in Grade 7, I had more determination than talent and so I persevered and somehow created a beautiful potholder. Well, a potholder, anyhow. And now I would do the same. Persevere and create these blue and yellow flowers. I just needed to get the needle threaded which proved to take longer than forever.

Ahhh. Finally.

And so, it came to be that a handful of ladies, myself included, wiled away a few hours of their night to make blue and yellow ribbons to show our support for Ukraine. And as we sewed, stapled and glued, the talk around the table ran high about numerous topics. The polio vaccine, before the polio vaccine, the residential schools, racism, Easter, COVID and then the talk would flip back to the poor people of Ukraine.

I said little being that I was extremely focused on trying to make these yellow and blue ribbon pedals look like flowers.

But I listened and I smiled to myself, and I thought about quilting bees, sewing circles, and knitting clubs and such and how women have come together throughout the ages to be part of something bigger than themselves.

And I felt a tiny nudge of a good feeling that comes with knowing that perhaps, somehow, I, too, was part of that circle of women.

It was snowing when we left the high school. And it took a long time for the cab of my old truck to heat up.

But, for some reason, both my girlfriend and I felt warm inside.

“It was a good thing to do,” I said. “I’m glad you suggested it.”

“Yes,” she said. “It is just one little thing, but if enough people get together and do one little thing it does make a difference. It has to.”

The blue and yellow ribbons, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, show support for the people of Ukraine, raising funds and bringing attention to their plight.

And I, in my own feeble attempt to show support, actually took an hour out of my time to help make my own tiny mountain of ribbons.

I have no idea how much difference it will make, but one thing I know for sure.

I am glad I did it.

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.