Katherin Hollerin. She lives just up the road, somewhere. Katherin sitting waiting for a visitor to come and ask for help in understanding the world She holds pearls of wisdom in her heart and head.

Katherin Hollerin. She lives just up the road, somewhere.

Katherin Hollerin. She lives just up the road, somewhere.

A short relatable tale in honor of all the porch sitting elders dispensing pearls of wisdom to anyone that asks for help understanding anything. These are the people we should all seek to know.

Katherin Hollerin sat on her front porch in Geddes, South Dakota. She sat in the old rocking chair she inherited from her mother. A pale, worn wood. Thin woven lengths of rattan made up the seat and back. There were swirls cut deep into the back, ending at the tall spindles used to move the chair from here to there. Katherin never much liked the rocking chair itself. She did like rocking. She liked rocking in the shade of her porch in the morning before the angle of the sun brought it’s heat under the porch roof.

She had knitting needles in her hand, but no yarn. She watched honey bees pollinate the flowers she planted in three clay pots, now nestled on the porch near her rocking chair. She listened to their work. A soft buzz caressing the morning shade. They too, were eager to enjoy the morning coolness before the sun rose to demand it’s rightful place in a receding purple sky.

Seekers know Katherin Hollerin far and wide. If you asked Katherin though, she’d beg to differ, claiming not so much far and wide, but maybe up to Winner, South Dakota. But that’s not true. And that is Katherin. She’s not one to talk about herself. She’s known for knitting nothing, and knowing everything. That’s why those that can’t find answers for themselves find Miss Katherin Hollerin on her porch in her rocking chair in the morning.

Ask for directions to Miss Katherin’s and you’ll get as far as the town of Geddes. Then you’ll need to do some asking to get out to her place. Her place doesn’t have an address, so much as a turn left here, then drive a few miles. Or walk. Walk since the bus line ends at the town line of Geddes. The people of Geddes had noticed over the years that the folk who realize they don’t have answers, don’t have cars. Katherin put it a different way sitting at the table of the potluck at Salvation Baptist Church after a Sunday service. “You can’t judge a person by the things they don’t have. You do that, and you’ve judged yourself.” She didn’t say much more that Sunday.

She sat knitting nothing the day a tall thin boy came to her porch. He’d walked all the way from Illinois. He was from South Dakota and no one understood why he took that route to get to the Hollerin place. He carried a blue backpack, straps over his shoulders. The pack covered in the dust that covered the boy’s boots and khaki pants. Cargo pants with pockets bulging, carrying all the things the boy had thought important for his journey. Undiscoverable to anyone else.

He let the backpack slide down his arms and approached the porch, backpack held in one hand. He stood quietly. He studied the front porch, then the sky, feeling the day’s heat building already. He waited a bit more. The boy watched Miss Katherin Hollerin flick her knitting needles, working through the movements as though they had yarn. The metal tips clicking. He heard a slight childlike hum escaping her grin. Her eyes were soft, surrounded by wrinkles that carried their own knowledge. She watched her flowers. Which confused him.

Katherin didn’t look his way from her flowers, but beckoned him to join her. “C’mover here and watch my honey bees with me.”

He set his backpack in the dirt and took the first two of four steps up to the porch. The wood that seemed old was firm, giving no sway at all to his steps. He’d expected an all knowing old lady to have a porch that was old and in some disrepair. The porch was strong. He sat on the stoop and watched her bees, then watched her hands work stitches that created nothing at all. “Why do you knit nothing?”

“Who said I’m not getting nothing knit?” She didn’t change her gaze from her honey bees. Her voice level, intimate, strong.

“Well, you don’t have any yarn going between the needles. So nothing’s getting knit. So …” He didn’t know how else to explain his question and answer hers at the same time. This wasn’t how he expected this moment to be.

“Are you watching my bees or me? I invited you to watch my bees. And that question isn’t why you walked the wrong way to get to the right place.”

“No. Yes. You’re right. I don’t know what to do with my life. I’m lost. I can’t make sense of it at all.” He rested his elbows on his knees, took a deep breath, and dropped his head between his shoulders. His boots were a mess. He hadn’t really looked at them for a while. He should have cleaned them before coming here. His mind raced to places other than the one he currently occupied. He looked back up and smiled. But Katherin was still watching her bees. He tried to look where she was looking. There was a honey bee on a purple blossom nearest to her. He focused on that one.

They watched the honey bees. Heard the birds sing in the trees. He hadn’t noticed the line of trees to the right. They made a wall of green that felt comforting. He felt the breeze on his face. Cool yet, but warming. Winds caught the loose hanging material of his shirt and pressed their way through to his skin. It felt good. His gaze followed the chosen bee to the next pot filled with white blossoms.

Miss Katherin rested her hands holding knitting needles in her lap and looked at the tall thin man that was just yet a boy who didn’t know how to make sense of it all. None of her visitors knew how to make sense of all theirs, either. She smiled and rested her hand on his. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She heard him take his without realizing he’d done it. She opened her eyes and her grin into a soft smile. Lost youth were her favorite visitors. They were too young to debate her, too smart to question her, and too eager to be done with not understanding. They needed the most help that required the least energy from her. They were flowers in spring, wanting desperately to open. Lost adults were a handful. They weren’t lost. They were mistaken. Believing others’ definition of them. Hard to turn that train around in one visit.

She stopped rocking and leaned forward to ask a quiet question of her visitor. “Who told you any of it was supposed to make sense?” She smiled. “And who’s sense are you supposed to be making?”

Flowers in spring always start as a seed. She sat back in her rocking chair, pulling her needles back into position to knit. Her bees continued pollinating the flowers that continued to bloom under the sun that continued to rise and set. She spoke to her dancing knitting needles more than her visitor. “The only problem you have is trying to make sense of anything at all. You ought to go about making something out of nothing and see what comes of it. Making sense of things is a waste of time, really. Walking all this way doesn’t make sense. But, then again, it was a pleasant walk, wasn’t it?” She turned her attention to her honey bees again.

The tall, thin boy with his sun-burnt face, dusty boots, and forgotten backpack looked up with a start. “Yes, it was a good walk. I enjoyed it very much.”

She nodded. “Honey bees don’t wake up trying to make sense of things. They wake up and buzz around flowers all day long. They pollinate the world without making sense of it.”

The tall, thin boy stood up on the second step of the four and stretched tall and long. He grinned, chuckling a bit. He stepped down off the porch with a light skip and picked up his backpack, looked into the sky, and took a deep breath. “I think I’ll walk a bit more. See what comes of it. Thank you, Ma’am.”

She nodded lightly with a smile. Katherin and her visitor shared a mutual gaze with each other’s eyes. He broke the gaze first and started back down the dirt road that had a line of tall grass growing along the center because it could. She watched another visitor leave to find their own set of knitting needles.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Leave a comment

* Required fields