Brown Ash: The Courtship

Brown Ash: my holy grail of basket-making materials. Not that it is or isn’t the best material (as if I’m qualified to opine on that point), but it certainly seemed the most daunting. In compiling my list of plants that I would try to learn about through basket-making, I included ash with the mental caveat that it was okay if it took me a few years to gather all of the necessary knowledge and assistance. I didn’t know that there … Read More

The Tiniest Pack Basket

I’ve been stubbornly resistant to making a pack basket. I have all of the brown ash splints, I’m weaving baskets, I have the intention of spending lots of time outside and often want to carry things with me, so why not a pack basket? I think exploring that question could very easily become a long essay stretching back into my early teens and getting into my reaction to visual cues that mark people as belonging to certain groups. I’m not going to write that … Read More

When Ash Moves in and Takes Over

Ash splints fill my bathtub and stain it yellow, shreds of ash are felted into all of my wool socks, my cat rolls in piles of scraps and then walks off to some other part of the house, leaving a trail behind him. Ash falls out of my hair, I find it in my tea, in my bed. My life is saturated with ash, and I’ve yet to weave a single basket. Every evening after dinner, I pull a splint out of the … Read More

For Love of Weaving: a Basket of Wild Grape and Red Osier Dogwood

It took two seasons of living on this land before I realized that these thick, plentiful vines are wild grapes. Many of them stretch high into the trees, where I can’t even see their leaves, let alone sample their fruits. These are for the birds. But each year I find enough grapes within arm’s reach to keep me happy. Do they taste good? Hell yes they do! Even the ones that don’t, do. Reaching into a thicket and pulling out … Read More

Trout Lily Day!

There is a massive springtime display happening in the woods behind my house, and going into my fourth spring on this land, it hasn’t gotten any less exciting. Patience! The massive springtime display photo comes at the end of the post. This is the foreshadowing. It starts in mid-April with tiny red spears poking up underneath the leaf litter. This is the stage at which I would dig the corms to eat, although I never remember to take a spade into … Read More

First Basket: Red Osier, Lilac, Virginia Creeper, Basswood, Wool

On a sunny and well-frozen day in early February, we learn to harvest red osier dogwood. Its color is stunning against the snow, and makes for a beautiful basket. Ray leads us to promising harvest spots, talking about the dogwood’s preferred habitat (open and sunny and wet). We fan out in search of long, straight, slender whips; a single year’s growth. If you don’t cut the red osier, it branches and becomes thick and woody. If you cultivate a relationship … Read More

Land as Collaborator

“My land.” Oh dear, this is going to be a problem. This land doesn’t belong to me in any truly meaningful sense. I’ve tried calling it “the land that I live on,” and variations thereof, but the phrasing is cumbersome and feels detached. So I’m going back to calling this “my land,” in the relationship-indicating sense that I would say “my sister” or “my friend,” and not in the ownership sense that I would say “my sock.” Only two more … Read More

Personal Ritual, or, How I Get Myself Out of Bed

I wish I could say that I start the day by going outside and sitting in nature. I admire people like Trevanna who have this practice. But this is definitely not how my mornings go. If I’m being completely honest with myself, my “morning ritual” recently has consisted of hitting the snooze button multiple times, rolling out of bed, a quality mattress that one can get when they Visit Eva website, stabbing some bobby pins into my hair, and driving … Read More

Saturday Morning Hide Tanning

I knew that hide tanning was one of the things we’d be learning this year as apprentices, but I didn’t really know what I was getting into. This was my cryptic to do list for Saturday morning (which I unfortunately left in the lunch room at the office on Friday, for the speculation of my colleagues). A day of decadent feasting and then exercising? Car stunts and massage therapy? Nine days earlier: The contractor bag had been thawing next to … Read More

Creating Ceremony, Reclaiming Traditions

Since joining the Wildwood Path as an apprentice, I look forward to each month’s emailed overview as much as I looked forward to opening my Christmas stocking as a child. This month’s invitation beckons: Join us as we build our relationships with the mysterious worlds: the ancestors, the fire, our own grief, and our capacity for transformation. The lengthening nights as we approach winter solstice make me want to stay home from work, cozy up to a fire, read, knit, … Read More

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