There's an old reptilian part of my brain that is constantly working in scarcity-survival mode, so my adrenals really get a workout in the winter when it's cold and dark and the landscape has almost nothing to eat in it. So, it was lovely to receive these gifts from the land and sea, to remind me that I can choose to see abundance instead of scarcity:
First, a massive chunk of precious yellow cedar:
There were some pretty big storm surges near my dad's place at the end of December, and the beach was first stripped of all its usual driftwood, and then graced with an abundance. I found this nice big chunk of yellow cedar and felt electrified by inspiration -- it reminded me of those wonderful 'Swedish Fire' logs that they make at East Van gatherings, such as the Night of All Souls at Mountain View Cemetary and the Winter Solstice Lantern Festivals. I immediately began to cherish the long-term ambition to carve my family a beautiful house-post, covered in magic runes and patterns inspired by weaving.
I put my back into it and managed to manhandle the thing down the beach a ways and up to the bank beneath my dad's place, where my dad and I later tethered it with a rope.
This is a fairly substantial log for a small person like me; it's a good 12" in diameter and over 6'6" long. My dad figured it was roughly 400lbs, so he went to work to borrow a block and tackle for us to hoist it up the bank, but found the gear locked up for the holidays. I hope that the log sticks around til Easter; we usually go over for a visit then and I'll have the chance to help my dad get the beast up the bank and into the back of his truck.
Next: Bull Kelp:
This was something else we found on the beach: a massive bull-kelp anchor, and the mass of bull kelp that went with it. First Nations used to make fishing line with the stapes -- line strong enough to haul up 400lb halibut, I hear! I wish I'd remembered to pack some of the stapes home with me.
Finally: Red Osier
Red osier dogwood is just gorgeous. I found a big pile of some cuttings that somebody made beside some sort of chain link meter enclosure, and so I accepted them as a New Years' gift, scooped them up and carried them home. I've tried to weave with this plant before but I was unsuccessful, in spite of how (or perhaps because of how) desperately I wanted it to work out for the pretty colour. Since then, I've had a lot more experience with its cousin, willow, and have a much better idea of how to approach it.
So these are the gifts I received from the world, which reminded me that there is abundance here.
I'm back! but I'm pining for the long days and cooler, drier air of the North. The landscape is epic, and yet it comforts me.
My workshops at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival were well received; my focus was on beginners and I had people using as many different locally-available materials as I could. I was very proud of my students! Everyone showed a great deal of courage and an open mind, and worked all the way to the finish of their baskets without losing heart and getting disappointed. All the work was of an exceptionally high calibre. I joked with one young woman who did some extraordinarily precise and tidy work that she was a 'basket shark' who had 'hustled us' when she told us that she wasn't very crafty or artistic and had never made a basket before.
It was a great pleasure to have the honour of being a Guest Artist at the Festival, and the Festival itself lived up to its reputation of being a family-friendly event. I will jump at the chance to go again next year if I am invited.