fading light

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It has been hard, of late, to see new beginnings as anything more than crushing endings.
I was feeling ready to tackle countless projects and develop ideas into real things and share and radiate and move mountains when I came home from the Taproot Gathering.

And now I wonder…was I really there? Did I make real, lasting connections? Did I begin to tell a story, but now have forgotten how to go on? What happened to the momentum I felt building as I journeyed through that weekend?

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My sense of restoration has been tried and tested in myriad ways. I’m holding on to just a shred of it, and hoping it’s enough to help me find my way back.

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Tulle, string lights, streamers, pom poms and cider by the fireside have been supplanted by financial woes, illness, soccer games, homework, rejections, apologies and making do.

It’s the same let-down feeling that comes after graduating college, giving birth or finishing a really amazing book.

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I thought I could hold on to this.

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I think that part of me knew I would go through this. I left several times that last morning, but kept coming back…to make sure I didn’t forget to pack something, to read about the history of the camps, to stand on the porch with my eyes closed and listen to the sound of the water lapping on the shore. Maybe I was trying to find some sort of identifiable way to keep the experience close, as if the sound of the water could stay in my ears and become accessible at will.

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And when I finally tore myself away, I did not drive out of the camp. I parked the car just inside the gate, and then I walked to a trailhead, so I could give myself one last gift.

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I stepped lightly, carefully, deliberately. I stopped to listen and I stopped to look and I stopped at the top of Rattlesnake Mountain for a long while in a sweet glow of sunshine.

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Perhaps if I keep my step and my heart light, careful, and deliberate through these precarious times of mine, I will find the sunshine-y summit.

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Day 2, and Don’t Bite on Stuff from the Duck House (isn’t that a Cramps song?)

Firstly, thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses to my previous post. Your talk of baked pumpkins, applesauce, and knitting projects has me feeling dreamy and ready to cast on a sweater.

I had hoped to bring you this second installment of my Squam experience sooner, but the curve balls, lately…they are flying at me from all directions. This weekend was completely absorbed by caring for creatures great and small, stacking an unexpected delivery of wood before the rain, coming into free tomatoes and getting them put up (still not done), while shuttling my husband to and fro the hospital, late nights for the boy (with the bonus of snuggles when Papa was at the ER), and bleary, sleepless nights for me. Said husband contracted salmonella. Ugh. Please, whatever you do, don’t get salmonella. It’s awful. Terrible. There’s nothing you can do except ride it out, but C was in so much pain and so dehydrated, that I finally just brought him down to the ER so they could get some liquid back into him and bring his blood pressure up. It was a good move. I should note that, in this case, the infection did not come from food. It was a daring, early-morning (as in, all synapses not yet firing), duck rescue involving using teeth to release said duck from a tangle of twine.

(and I know the song is Don’t Eat Stuff Off the Sidewalk, but I think it applies, yeah?)

Sometimes, I feel like I’m in some sort of tragi-comic graphic novel. The author is pushing the line of just how much this little family can take. This is one of the least-desirable weeks for C to miss several more days of work. We were also taking care of our neighbor’s goats, some of them needing to be milked. I had never milked a goat. I did try, though. What a disaster. All I succeeded in doing was pissing off the goat and getting head-butted. I still have not milked a goat.

During a particularly off moment, O and I will press the Do Over button. I wish I could press the Do Over button on my entire week. Right now, I would probably give a kidney to be right back here:

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Just for a moment. To breathe. To bathe my fatigue in the lake. To laugh with Miranda, who posted a picture of my backside. And to pretend, for just a moment, that I feel I am master of my own fate instead of a helpless character in someone else’s hilarious story.

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Sit on the edge of the dock with me here, and everything else will melt away. This little piece of the planet is yours to inhale and exhale.

It was a really intense and fantastic day, my second day at the Taproot Gathering. I took a class called The Map Home, tenderly guided by Julia Shipley. I signed up for the class because I knew it would involve prompted writing and sharing, which would be a huge challenge for me, and also because my sense of home has been a blurred and messy place in my heart for the last decade.

This class stirred me up, and Julia created a space that made each one of us feel safe in our vulnerability and held as we explored the idea of home and our sense of place in past, present, and future. There were tears and revelations, laughter and moments of silence. All of it was perfect.

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During our mid-day break, I explored a little around “home”base, and came upon spontaneous artful arrangements of woodsy litter.

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And delighted in the beauty of the organic forms all around me. When I saw this mushroom, I wished I were a 1/4″ tall.

During the second half of class, I wrote a piece (well, I should say that it’s the beginning of something) that I was encouraged to share during Lodge Night that evening. There was a fashion show of sewn pieces, and then a few of us willing to read our own words. Into a microphone.

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I thought I would throw up, but I made it through, even with laryngitis and pitifully shaking hands. I’m glad I was encouraged, and I even thought about Next Time once I sat down.

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It was unedited, written in a 20-minute period, which is how I usually write.

Oh, and then Stephanie Pearl-McPhee took the stage and she was funny and charming and hey, guess what? She’s a very lovely person and I’m glad to have met her.

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Once I relaxed, the evening festivities were exactly the right way to end a day of perfection and open up connections beyond my class and housemates. I felt inspired in so many ways by so many people and words and visions that I’m still processing my experiences.

There’s more, but here:

PicMonkey Collage

I brought some things home with me. For you.

Click the collage to get to my shop. Enjoy.

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Oh, and the Taproot/yarn giveaway? Random Number Generator says Kelly gets it! She wrote: “The children love collecting, so when we gather all of our nature-gifts and start putting together an acorn or leaf garland really tells them it’s time for autumn. And the wool socks… putting on those wool socks is a sure sign that the barefoot season is coming to a quick end.”

Congrats, Kelly!

Taproot Gathering, Taproot Giveaway, and 500 Something or Other

I wish I could share the Everything of my experience at the Taproot Gathering with each and every one of you, but in the words of Inigo Montoya:

“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Really, too much. I must extend my most sincere gratitude to the Taproot and Squam Art Workshops lovelies, especially Elizabeth, Kaitlyn, Amanda and Jason for putting together such a deeply meaningful event, full of creativity, connection, inspiration, and beauty. And amazing food. We were nourished in every way possible.

The sum up:
I arrived at the Rockywold-Deephaven Camps late in the evening, and when I had unpacked from my car into the cabin, the sky, which had been lightening-lit the whole of my drive, finally released a torrent of rain. So, I missed the opening ceremony, affording myself the opportunity to explore the indoors and settle in quietly. I’m a nester like that, so it worked out well.

I hadn’t stalked my roommate ahead of time, so I knew nothing about the person who would be sleeping in the bed one foot away from mine in our cozy little room. It turns out she’s pretty awesome, has excellent taste in chocolate, and doesn’t mind giggling until 2am. She also creates sweet house portraits.

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Oh, that? Eh, just my walk to class in the morning.

I took Forage and Ferment, a natural dye workshop with Rachel Bingham. We used powdered natural dyes and then explored in the woods for various materials to experiment with.

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cochineal

Above is from a cochineal dyebath, and below is the pot I pushed for: black eyed susan. These flowers weren’t exactly in the wild, but the landscaping needed a little tidying and so I dead-headed the bushes, clipping only the flowers on their way out. The mordant used was alum and the result is a the loveliest sage green. I have a feeling the susies in my yard will find their way into a dyepot, too, since the frost will take them soon, anyway.

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Another favorite was goldenrod, and I’ll share the results once I spin the fiber. It’s nearly exactly my Biohazard blend, but with plant dye. Oh, and there is so very much in the way of goldenrod lurking all about my world right now.

I’m overwhelmed, so I will tell you about day 2 tomorrow. I’m still processing all the emotional Whoa, reigning it all in and absorbing it as I settle back into a daily grind which is different than the one I left behind.

In other news, this funny thing happened. At some point during the Sparkle Stories tutorial posting frenzy, I passed the 500th post mark. Is this significant? Not really, but I thought it might be worth mentioning, and that it’s a nice excuse for a giveaway.

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I happen to have an extra copy of the current issue of Taproot (#7: Gather). I also happen to have a piece included in its pages, so if you want to make my Blueberry Pie Sauerkraut, you’d best get your hot little hands on it. How about I send it to you?

How about I also sweeten the deal by sending the winner a skein of my handspun merino, dyed up with cochineal during the class I took at the Taproot Gathering? It’s bulky and squishy and delicious and is pictured above (the skein on the left), dripping with blood beautiful dye.

Leave a comment between now and Sunday, September 22nd, and tell me one of your favorite recipes or crafts that gets you feeling all Autumnal, and a winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!