Tag Archives: memories

Gathering–Gathering Thoughts–Gathering Leaves

4 Oct

My freezer is full of leaves.  Last night I inventoried my stash–low on white oak but tons of sourwood from a downed tree of a friend.  Could stand more sweet gum, butterfly bush and sumac–but for now I’m just fine.  So far, these are my go-to leaves for printing.  Leaves that will probably do  something.  Or not.

A thought came to me this morning while I was gathering wet white oak–a memory.  A memory of years ago gathering red maple leaves with my mother.  During her last few years, when she was still able to get out, we would take a drive every Sunday.  And in the fall, there was nothing she wanted more than to drive up onto the mountains and either peer down into the New River Gorge or collect ruby-red foliage.  It was amazing watching her while she was still able to ambulate–bending over and picking up her treasures–and then when she became too tottery–she’d point with her canemom's cane–a cane I found in an old secondhand store–a strong stick probably from rhododendron–with a gnarled handle that fit perfectly into her hand (and my own).  I painted it up with an old container I had of interference purple, hot-glued shiny glass beads and stars all over it–stuck a skid proof stopper on its end–and presented it to her one year at Christmas.  She loved it.

But back to the leaf gathering.  When she was no longer able to stoop, she’d simply point with the cane, pin a leaf down and tell me in no uncertain terms that she wanted “that one.”  And “that one–and yes, that one, too.”  This could go on for a long time.  And I think of this now and wish that after the ten thousandth leaf, I had been more patient.  Because really, I was only patient for a while. The leaves were taken home–many of them ironed in between waxed paper and I’m wondering what happened to them.  Wondering why I didn’t keep them when we cleared out her house.   That’s what I remembered this morning gathering leaves.

So–back to now–Joaquin may be on the way out but it’s still gray, windy and wet.  Leaves are coming down like crazy and the poplars, sumac and sourwoods are yellowing and reddening up.  Seems kinda late to me–but this is new–this obsession with ecoprinting–so I can’t rely on memory to tell me what last year’s trees were doing.  Anyway, last year at this time I had sold my house and was getting ready to move.  So I don’t know.  But I do know this–I’ve never, ever seen seed pods sprouting “on the vine.”

c and m sprouting

I was letting the spent blossoms stay on the flowers as long as possible before harvesting them–but look–the marigold  seed bundle in the foreground is sprouting–and in the upper right hand corner?  Dyer’s coreopsis sprouting before it even hits the ground.  Seems strange.

And the palette is changing now with the season.  Blue from sourwood.  Yellow from sumac turning.  Brown from acer.  Some times I over-dye but this one will stay as is.  It’s beautiful when the light hits the silk.

closeup of sourwood

But now I am going to reprint this a.m.’s scarf.  Trusty sourwood pulled an “or not” and simply did not print.  Left only a ghostly ever so faint yellow. Kinda like memories.

The Outer Banks of NC

17 Jun

I’ve just returned from a week on the Outer Banks of NC. Salvo was the destination, although now Salvo, Rodanthe and Waves all run into one and it’s hard to discern where one begins and one ends. Further south is the town of Avon–originally called Kinnakeet. A Croatan word that means “land that juts into something.” In this case, the “something” is Pimlico Sound. A large body of water in between Hatteras Island and the mainland.

The Croatan were a branch of Algonquins who lived on Hatteras Island. In 1995 or thereabouts, an archaeological dig down in Buxton, south of Avon, uncovered a 16th century English signet ring. Validating previous speculation that the members of the original Lost Colony really DID make their way down Hatteras and were incorporated into the native community. That’s what I hope. And after all the speculation about blue-eyed natives, it seems that perhaps they were given “shelter from the storm.” Virginia Dare raised by a Croatan family. I like to imagine that.

But the Roanoke-Hatteras Croatan Indians suffered the same fate as most other indigenous people. They were hunters. Fishermen. Farmers. With limited defense systems. Limited defense against European disease. European aggression. And the perhaps not-so-unique American concept of manifest destiny. It’s an old story. Old. Sad. True. It’s a spin we often don’t read about in American History. And even though the the Hatteras Croatan all but disappeared, genealogical descendants still get together in August. In Manteo, for their annual pow-wow.

I have my own history with the Outer Banks. Really a history unlike my relationship with any other place on earth. In 1963 my mother took me and my three siblings there. It was the first year the island of Hatteras had become accessible by bridge. Prior to that, the only way over was via ferry. In 1963 the Island was–how can I say it–pristine? And basically, although it’s a stretch, I could say it still is. But it’s a stretch. I’ve been back there many times. In many very different situations and can attest that A LOT has changed in 50 years. With the island and with me. And I never fail to be amazed at the island’s ability to open up my memory bank to things long forgotten or buried. That’s how it functions for me.

The Outer Banks–a narrow skinny sand bar that’s constantly shifting and changing. It’s a barrier island. As much in need of protection as the mainland it’s protecting. The Audubon Society has stepped in because several native bird species are disappearing. Those little birds that used to be there, running one step ahead of the surf. I didn’t see any this time. Not one. It took me a few days to realize that. That some thing was missing. The sand pipers. The Outer Banks are for me the only place where water and sky meet to form the vastness of ocean as I understand it to be. Still, in order to continue appreciating the wonder of the place, I must struggle with the changes wrought on it by encroaching development. That’s a challenge. A huge challenge.

On this trip, we had wonderful weather even though Hurricane Andrea was brewing. Around Manteo on the way in, we drove through a pretty fierce storm
storm front
but we drove out from under the front as we crossed Oregon Inlet and the only other rain we experienced happened while we were sleeping.

First morning heading through the dunes to the ocean:through the dunes

and then the beach

logan running

lunch at the beachshell searching

I worked on several cloths while we were there–a family cloth where each of the eight of us created our own representation of self from scrap pieces–and a second cloth. Here’s a sneak preview through a hole in an oyster shell. A shell fragment for face. I became fascinated with imperfect shells. More on that later. This post has become too long now. I will post cloth images later on.
parallel realities1

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