Monday, September 21, 2015

Making things - pine needle baskets

The goal this weekend was to make pine needle baskets.  We headed to the park on Saturday with our basket to collect needles.  The very act of collection was more profound that I expected.  Just the process of picking up the needles and interacting with the space was new.  I heard the wind differently sitting on the grass trying to choose which would be the best needles for my project.  I could smell the animal pee and see the insect around me.  I could hear the wind in the trees.  I was slowed down and part of the earth.  I was awed that as large as my basket was, I made no dent in the supply of needles.  I was surprised by Runa who wanted to work out how long it would take to make a house out of pine needles.

Above is our urban gathering collection, that of course included a trip to the coffee shop and some time to read.  We read "Métis Travel" by Leah Dorian, which the children enjoyed by considering all the other ways of travel Dorian had not included for the Métis people such as explosive farts and pink unicorns.  We debated whether a dog sled made up of beagles would work and talked about what we would make out of the needles.  It was good time together as a family.

Runa was very engaged in the idea of making the baskets.  When I soaked the needles she made sure to add lots of tobacco and cedar.  She really wanted to do this right.  She came and enjoyed the aroma with me.  It was very satisfying to soak the needs and see the steam rising from them.  We used the trick of using a straw to keep the thickness of the basket even and that worked quite well.  The whole project was a bit much for Runa at 7, but Sophie at almost 11 could handle things ok.  The smaller basket I did came together in about a hour and Runa enjoyed playing with the pine needles while I did her basket.  We used the cooled water in our bath later and Runa really enjoyed seeing how it interacted with the bath overall.

I completed another larger basket as shown here below.  It was amazing to see something come together out of something we would normally just walk over and ignore.  The process of gathering lead itself naturally into a conversation about medicine plans and was a good reminder of what we have been learning.  It was awesome to stop and remember the abundance all around us and to have a good discussion with the girls about how people used to live and what that would mean practically.  Sometimes I spend a lot of time trying to get everyone focused on a project and it does not work.  This just worked and it is a reminder that sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  Sometimes it works in your interest and sometimes not, but it will work out eventually.

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