baskets in the woods

I have just spent two joyful days making bramble baskets in new leafed woodland near Heathfield, East Sussex, facilitated by Ruby Taylor of Native Hands.

The gentle supportive tone and pace of the weekend was set as we were invited to make the short walk into our camp in the woods, silently and to turn off our mobile phones. Each day we joined in the lighting of a campfire, blowing gently to ignite a small spark held in a dry grass bundle to which twigs, sticks and small split logs were added. It became the centre of  warmth, support and mindful making.

For our material, we gathered and stripped  brambles; a small wall basket with a handle the aim.   Each technical step was taught with care and clarity by Ruby.  We shared food at lunch times and punctuated our days with plentiful tea and flapjacks. Baskets finished, but not yet trimmed as bramble shrinks, we gathered with joyful surprise at our efforts.

As we contemplated our  return to busy-ness, Ruby read The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry to complete a quite beautiful weekend.

“When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” 
Wendell Berry

© susy orton 2019

Another bit of delight

In the 80’s I discovered Michel Leunig and loved his poetry and cartoons. I rediscovered him recently and offer you this poem/prayer.  His books are hard to get but if you can buy them!  Michel Leunig. Leunig poem 1                         © Michael Leunig

Learning the Bicycle

I’m home again after a teacher mentoring week at BIMM Manchester. I saw inspirational teaching by gifted folk in this organisation and trust I helped them along the way.  This morning while weaving again I hear this poem and thought of them all…

Learning the Bicycle
for Heather

The older children pedal past
Stable as little gyros, spinning hard
To supper, bath, and bed, until at last
We also quit, silent and tired
Beside the darkening yard where trees
Now shadow up instead of down.
Their predictable lengths can only tease
Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone
Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall.

Tomorrow, though I will run behind,
Arms out to catch her, she’ll tilt then balance wide
Of my reach, till distance makes her small,
Smaller, beyond the place I stop and know
That to teach her I had to follow
And when she learned I had to let her go.

© Wyatt Prunty 1989cropped-img_1007.jpg

The Peace of Wild Things

I’m in the thick of warping for my South Down’s tweed. It’s concentrated work with over 1600 threads to go on. I’m enjoying the systems and concentration required.  I have not had time to walk my next section of the South Downs Way yet, so reading Wendell Berry’s poem this morning with my coffee was a lovely reminder.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

late June

I love the month of June in England, full of soft fruit, tennis and bare feet; I enjoy the warmth and abundance.  Adlestrop by Edward Thomas evokes the gentle pace and stillness of June for me too. This year on the 100th anniversary of the start of the 1st world war in which both my grandfathers served it seems particularly poignant.  Geoffrey Palmer reads it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDUEwGR_gH8

Yes. I remember Adlestrop –
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

For more about Adlestrop

© sue orton

Grace

I re-found this Carol Anne Duffy poem today; I read it at my mum’s funeral in 2012.

Then, like a sudden, easy birth, grace –
rendered as light to the softening earth,
the moon stepping slowly backwards
out of the morning sky, reward
for the dark hours we took to arrive and kneel
at the silver river’s edge near the heron priest,
anointed, given – what we would wish ourselves.

© Carol Anne Duffy from Rapture

 

Barbican Project

I’m loving being on the Handweavers Diploma in London and recently completed my first project. The Barbican was our design inspiration.  Here is the poem that was at the heart of my mood board. Also one or two pictures of the swatches in the collection.

Now is then and then is now
now is then and then is now,
relentless soul-less grey,
tingled alive with flashes of joy and colour
memories of you here, mingle with finger tipped geraniums on the flats

now is then and then is now,
steady studying summer-school,
heart pricked, such laughter and tears
shapes oozing remembered days, swamped by solid blocks of stuck-ness

now is then and then is now,
solid blocks surrender
leaking light, space, ideas for colour and design
gathering slowly, I warm to my task, my weaver and your artist joined.

© Sue Orton 2013

(I last visited the Barbican in 1980 with my mother artist and sculptor who died 23 Oct 2013