One of the things I most love is gardens – all kinds of gardens! I’ve made another vegetable garden where the old drive shed had to come down and plan to steal another bit of ground for a third vegetable garden for next year. I want to be as sustainable as possible with my own organic food. Now, on to spring in the garden!
The new venture was precipitated by many cartons needing to find a place to land in this small house. The cartons were filled with dozens and dozens of beautiful antique linens and laces, some other antique items, and some things more correctly called “vintage” these days. The 1920s & 30s for my mother were a tad different than now – the laundry woman visited once a week & a seamstress outfitted young ladies.
First I planted a very small and simple trellis along a part of the front verandah. Then I planted a woven willow ‘tree’, which I think is just the neatest thing! I have plans for creating lots of other living willow structures to make the gardens places of fun and adventure.
Fast forward eight years and a move from Toronto to the tiny hamlet of Gore’s Landing…I was working at Hospice Northumberland and the day of Hospice’s 2005 AGM was Maggie’s last day in this realm. I won’t go into details. I was devastated. I would never become attached to another dog — never, ever! …As I was opening the door to leave the pound, there was a blood-curdling howl. Naturally, I turned around and headed straight back for the cage that housed the hound.
When invited to my first pot luck after moving from the city, I asked, “What should I bring?” “Whatever,” was the answer. “No,” I said, “I mean appetizer, main course, salad, dessert?” I really didn’t understand. And there’s another pot luck in the Gore’s Landing Hall tonight — everybody’s invited — really! Just show up with your contribution, dig in and enjoy!
What we human beings have sat ourselves on throughout history would make an interesting dissertation. From hunkering down on our haunches to ornate palanquins and thrones to humble hand-hewn cottage seats, we’ve strived through the ages to be comfortable when not out doing the daily hunting and gathering. Who would have thought that there would be such demand today for the craft of weaving chair seats?
We learn a lot from the early Canadian settlers who were very creative in adapting to life in North America. Log cabin building, while seen as cozy and picturesque now, was a necessity then. And it wasn’t very cozy in the beginning — often no windows and a hole in the roof for the stovepipe — tad chilly and dark that first winter! Women who later had sheep for wool were very lucky. Spinning, knitting, weaving and sewing all started with those sheep. And when the woollen clothing was too worn to patch any more, it could be turned into winter quilts and later, mats to warm the floor.
I was asked today to write a 200-word definition of eco-artisan. This is what I came up with. Do you agree or can you add something? If you delve a couple of hundred years into human history to see how people lived, you’ll find that almost everybody was an eco-artisan. It was natural to grow and make the things that you used every day.
I get excited about old-time crafts very easily, especially if they require no cash outlay and my own two hands are the tools. I’ve been known to bite off more than I can chew, but sometimes the excitement leads to marvellous new adventures in sufficiency! A sally garden is a willow (salix) garden. Next to growing food, I think growing basket willows is about the smartest thing you can do with a bit of soil. Chair caning led me to basketry, and weaving baskets led to wanting to grow my own basket willows.