gathering or collecting? (a workshop with Julia Parker)

Yosemite meadow-the Native Americans kept this area free from trees and saplings, it is now filled with trees that encroach on the meadow where materials and acorns were once gathered.

Yosemite meadow-the Native Americans once kept this area free from trees and saplings, it is now filled with trees that encroach on the meadow where materials and acorns were once gathered.

I am still gathering my thoughts here- it will take some time for them to settle in and find a place to live. but in the meantime, a few photos….

Among the very many wonderful pieces of wisdom shared at the recent basket workshop in Yosemite with Grandmother Julia Parker, her daughter Lucy, and granddaughter Ursula was the distinction between gathering and collecting.  Am I a gatherer or a collector?

Lucy explains the valley floor-how Yosemite indians tended it and kept it free of non native plants.

Lucy explains the valley floor-how Yosemite indians tended it and kept it free of non native plants.

Am I gathering things with intention of using them in the short term or collecting things to have them for some other reason-perhaps without a specific purpose?  Often we get caught up in the collecting of things-for various reasons.  But what if we only had what we needed now- in the present?  My, the world would look so much different!

bracken fern roots were carefully dug with a digging stick, dried and prepared for basketmaking.

bracken fern roots were carefully dug with a digging stick, dried and prepared for basketmaking.

sedge grass is used in many ways in basketry- here you can see sedge, bracken fern and milkweed

sedge grass is used in many ways in basketry- here you can see sedge, bracken fern and milkweed

detail of milkweed pod- the stalk is used.  these are different than the ones i grow-

detail of milkweed pod- the stalk is used. these are different than the ones i grow-

three generations- Ursula, Julia, and Lucy.  it was a beautiful experience.

three generations- Ursula, Julia, and Lucy. it was a beautiful experience.

Lucy demonstrates working with the willow under Julia's watchful eye.

Lucy demonstrates working with the willow under Julia’s watchful eye.

some of the participants finished baskets

some of the participants finished baskets-using twining technique. tule,willow and cattail. small example of a burden basket.

Other highlights of the three days include walking through the wonderful basketry exhibit with Julia herself (i’d provide you with a link but since the federal “government” is shut down there is no link!)  Just trust me- it was fantastic and walking through it with Julia and Lucy was really wonderful.  A special visit into the roundhouse where Julia and Lucy performed a special happy dance and song along with a blessing. Sitting outside under the trees making baskets while deer wandered through and hearing stories-priceless!

And on another exciting note- the first copy of Julia’s new book  , Scrape the Willow until it Sings  was delivered to her during the workshop.  We all got to look at it and it will be available soon from Heyday Books. It looks wonderful.  I had a copy of her previous book, It will Live Forever which is a wonderful introduction to not only acorn culture in Yosemite but also includes the baskets used to gather and process the acorns into food.  She graciously signed my copy.  She will be in San Francisco Oct. 20th for a book signing if you are fortunate enough to be able to go.

A basket can hold many things- food, objects, water-even thoughts and ideas. I gathered some cattail while I was at my friends cabin.  They are drying out in the driveway on top of the car (the dogs can’t get them there).

I intend to make a cattail basket when I return from Houston mid November-and fill it with memories from this time.  To use in the garden- a gathering basket. We all gave away our first baskets as tradition dictates.

There is a lot to do now to get ready for Houston.  I don’t even know where to start today….

just somewhere i suppose.

9 thoughts on “gathering or collecting? (a workshop with Julia Parker)

  1. Geraldine Rudolph

    What a wonderful story; beautiful women. Thank you so much. Geraldine

    On Thu, Oct 3, 2013 at 10:31 AM, Shibori Girl

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      it WILL live forever in my mind. I kind of like the thought that Yosemite is closed right now. It gets to take a break from us silly humans! it also lives forever…

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  2. beachwalkerca

    What a lovely time you must have had. I, too, learned another basket weaving technique used by local Native Americans…pine needles. It certainly taught me to appreciate the work that goes into making a basket. These lovely ladies are wonderful to share their heritage and respect for our Earth with others through these presentations and books. You were so lucky to attend.

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    1. shiborigirl Post author

      lots of reinforcement on things i have been wondering about. and really, what is to not love about Yosemite? every year i go there i discover something new. 12 years now! it was like going to Japan- it refilled my “wonder cup”.

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