Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Overlapping tones of gold

There is a moment, where summer and autumn overlap extending their tones of gold into an endless afternoon
And that is where she lives...and bakes in her little canopied hill.
She whisks light into froth for her lemony cake and serves petal pancakes to the wee ones there.

There, is a moment that is precious, for there is where summertime's babes play with those who will grow in autumn's care.
It is where buttercup shines sleepily while little mushroom wakens shyly,

and where a wee green grass turns gold.
This little baker nourishes those baby marvels with tender heartedness
and sweet deliciousness
and so that moment of their dwelling is sustained on and on, long into the endless playing of a golden afternoon
and maybe even ever more

Monday, 4 August 2014

Blessed by Nettles

In her beautiful book, The Sense of Wonder, alongside the reflective photography of Nick Kelsh, Rachel Carson writes of the importance of those adults who hold space, cherish, and nurture children's relationship with nature. In stories that centre around moments spent with her young nephew, Carson wonder-fully expresses this truth, which I have also experienced in my children's lives. While children are born with a natural belonging and familiar awe for their world, the adult who notices and appreciates alongside them, who values the pictures in clouds and the faint scent of blossom, found things on walks, the minute moss forests; is confirming the connectivity that the child feels. My children's Granny, my mother, has perhaps offered the greatest cradling of such awe. They have also both been blessed with amazing experiences of 'forest school', and this nourishing, for my youngest, is an ongoing weekly celebratory adventure.

One day my hands became suffused with gratitude for these adults, who are in their spirit, mothering the child and the earth at once, as one. So, first in soft movements in the air between my palms and fingers, and then with stitches and cloth, I began to respond to a being, an earth mother who became the world itself, of fields and flowers and oceans and sky, and who, at the same time, encircled this world in her arms, with her cloak, and carried wee beings in her skirt. Her form reminded me of those spirits who spin the creation into being, and of womenkind, its our most tender nature. Her structure suggested the possibility of puppetry and story telling....

And then she called for a blessing crown

And I recalled the delicate pattern of the nettle string that both my daughters have learnt to make at their forest schools and so I asked my youngest to teach me

Here is how she showed me
Find some nice long nettles
pick one, as long as possible,  being careful not to get stung 
hold the nettle firmly at the top with your protected hand and cut off the leaves with a downward stoke of the knife, make sure that you do not peel away the skin of the stalk, as you will need that fibre 
bash the stalk to loosen the skin fibre
gently peel away a brown green length of the outside of the stalk, this is the part you will need
fold it in half and give a little twist to the middle 
twist the underneath fibre away from you
and without letting go, so that it doesn't untwist, bring it down over the front fibre,
the front and the back threads will now have swapped places, and you can twist the back one away from you again and repeat 
In this way a string starts to form 
It is important to hold the end of the string where you are twisting, to keep it tight
Soon your fingers will get used to this pattern of 'twist away, bring down' and you will have a nettle string, the thickness and length will depend on the stalk fibre with which you began 
the fibres of the string will curl apart a little as they dry, this makes the string very beautiful 

And so this earth mother was blessed by a crown, fitting in its nature

And she played 
Dancing love around the world