As a child, my parents read me the great Indian saga “Ramayana”. The epic follows all good sagas, complete with family betrayals, exiles, kidnappings, and war. Part way into the story, the good son Rama, heir apparent to the throne, is exiled to the jungle with his wife and brother. In the jungle, they learn to live like the dark indigenous people, and are taught how to wear bark clothing.
I kept wondering what that looked like. Did they slip the entire bark off a large tree and wear it like a tube dress, and only take constricted, mincing steps?
Years later I learned it was the inner bark of specific trees, and often the bark was pounded until it separated into soft fibers that could be spun and woven.
It blew me away while traveling that so many people in Laos and the Philippines still grow all of their rice, all their carb needs for the family for the year. They grow it in their backyard.
What do I have in my backyard that is useful or edible?
Erik and I are deeply considering moving to the Pacific Northwest to be close to his family, and I am following up on a teenage dream of making baskets.
I’ve been collecting reams of the inner bark of the red cedar, and without much instruction (I haven’t found any books on the subject), I’m seeing what I can make. I’m using cedar bark from spring time trees that have been chopped down off a hiking trail, or by the telephone company. Traditionally the bark is stripped from living cedar trees…which they survive, but are always deeply scarred.
My current project is a cedar bark hat that I am shaping over a form. The cedar bark is cut into strips and split into slender pieces, soaked in water overnight and then it’s flexible and easy to manipulate into various shapes. ( Don’t tell Rick and Bev, but I’ve been soaking the bark in their outdoor hot tub….not fully recommended because the bark has a reddish brown stain)
Grateful for time and energy to follow curiosities, passions, dreams.