Thursday, May 5, 2011

Readings, Weavings, and Wonderings

Along time ago my daughter, Katy, and I fell in love with a book character named Gurgi, from Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron. The elf Gurgi spoke in timely rhymings. Gurgi begins by begging his master to take him on the quest by saying, "Clever valiant warrior Gurgi, who joins master to keep him from harmful hurtings." Whenever I had to apply bandaids for Katy's bloody wounds we wished that the harmful hurtings would heal soon. We laughed and cried aloud together as we read those fantasy adventure stories. "Woe and sadness," wailed the creature, loping anxiously to Taran. "Gurgi sees smackings and whackings by strenghtful lord..." For years Gurgi's words became our way of communicating in rhyming lines. We even wrote a fan letter to Lloyd Alexander explaining our passion for Gurgi and his elfish character charm. Mr. Alexander actually wrote back to Katy and the letter arrived on her 8th birthday.
Katy learning the steps of over and under.

This past February Katy and I enjoy a cold winter day, learning the skill and art of basket weaving, at Sandy Springs Farms in Hinton, OK. It was our first venture into the world of "over, under, over, under." As we laughed and giggled at our pea sized brains for having to repeat the weaving mantra of "over, under" my mind wondered in and out of time and memories of motherhood with my delightful creative daughter.

While the very advanced basket weavers sat on the crescent moon shaped side of our table formation, the two of us inexperienced weavers sat at a full table facing them. We felt really special receiving so much attention from our master weaver, Pauline Hogan Asbury. The fact is we needed all of the attention we could garner. Step one of a simple flat weave went well until we later discovered the importance of having the central flat reed turned good side up. Oh well, we had a master weaver in our mists who could manipulate our errors. All mistakes were forgiven and the basket began to take shape. Next, we learned how to make "chicken feet." Low and behold, our design really did look like the term "chicken feet." I began to wonder how many generations ago it was when nearly every woman could weave a basket, stitch the clothing for survival, weave or quilt a blanket, or cook for the multitudes. Did her weaving or quilting give her mind time to wonder?

In one of my wonderings I asked my daughter, Katy, "Do you ever finger weave anymore?" She gave me that look of "what!" I continued, "Don't you remember all those classes at the Firehouse Art Station when you spent the winter finger/hand weaving?" Suddenly, a child like smile spread across her face and her mother's heart beamed. "I do remember the classes, but I don't remember how to finger weave." Once again we were both lost in our own wonderings.

Sandy, the owner of the land, the barn, the buffalo, and co-hosts to some of our memories kept returning to our table to chat about "times gone by." She and I had both taught at Jefferson Elementary in Norman, Oklahoma during the '80's. Each trip by the table was a refreshing stream down memory lane for the three of us. One of the most special occasions was the day we both flew across town on the lunch/planning time and decorated Katy's birthday cake. We had a simple family birthday party that year, but Katy had a once in a lifetime hand decorated cake. Katy smiled and said, "You mean you two decorated it, not someone at the grocery store?" We giggled and I replied, "It was the Sandy Elf who really did the art work. I just filled the bags of frosting. We just wanted to make it special for you."

Then as if on cue I smelled food and Gurgi leaped into my mind. With all of the creative juices flowing I experienced "wiffings and sniffings." It seems as though our energetic hostess was preparing a feast for all of us to enjoy as we finished our weavings. Our fingers took on a new life as our "Muffin Baskets" began to take shape. The flat bottom suddenly had rounded sides. Our t-shirts and sleeves were damp with the squirt bottle in constant use, keeping the reed damp. Our style of hugging the upturned basket didn't look professional but then again we were beginners. "Over, under, tug, pull, fold, press, hold, hug...." the mantras continued interlaced with giggles and memories.

Completed baskets!

At last, with four hands at work, each basket was completed. Our hostess had filled the air with the aroma of "crunching and munchings." The collection of basket weavers filled their creative and tasteful desires that day. Friendships were renewed, memories recalled, and new stories created. When the last of the weavers left that afternoon another weaving of tales began. We were fortunate enough to be guests in that lovely barn for the night, sharing stories for hours with James and Sandy. A toast to another day of weavings and wonderings between mothers, and daughters, and friends.

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