Tag Archives: spring

The seeds sprout and the sun rises

Planting seeds… Every Spring as Nature awakens and comes back to life, seedlings are planted and seeds are sowed. Cause that’s how it goes. Cause that’s the way it is – standstill taking over the movement, and solution and breakthrough coming forward after the deadlock…

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Since we settled at #szaryganek a few years ago, I started another dyer’s garden right away. I planted several varieties of smoke bush, couple of catalpas, tamarisk, liquid amber, and two types of sumac in addition to what was already growing there. (Some of the new plants were presented by a friend visiting at that time. Evgenia, remember?) I also arranged madder root corner in the rear end of the garden. Needless to say, rubia tinctoria is a very important dye plant, although a young plant is not so good for dye extraction, you’ve got to wait 3 years until you harvest the first batch. This Spring I have been able to draw out a few root shoots to expand my madder plantation.

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Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs. According to J.N. Liles, it extends back at least to 2000 b.c. In his book The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, 1990, you can find at least 10 recipes with madder root for color red. Wow, I’ve been always fascinated with madder dyeing potential, and also with its medicinal properties. At the same time, have to admit that traditional dyeing with madder has never become my thing. Maybe I am not ambitious enough…

However, enhancing the effects from leaf printing in contact dyeing with madder extract, on the contrary, has been serving me at its best from the very start. Back in those days, when an absolute newbie in botanical printing struggling to get leaf prints of decent visibility on fabric or paper, at the same time craving for eucalyptus foliage to appropriate for my studio experiments, (and eucalyptus itself had been a complete alien at the local florists) half in despair, I resolved to giving a break to squishing out wishful color from the foliage that had already proven void, and to taking an opposite approach of saturating a weak leaf with stronger potion.

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The thing is that in days of the past newborn babies were traditionally bathed in herba bidentis extract bath-water in view of its antibacterial etc. properties, clothes were also treated with the extract. I did bathe my child that way too. The extract should’ve been cooked every time fresh through a time consuming process, and no steps to be skipped whatsoever. And the results were magical… So, in my studio I gave the old method a go and treated those weak leaves to the dye stuff extract. And, yes, the leaves impregnated with stronger dye print immediately even before the heat is applied. This is a pic back from that time:

What a relief it was after so many failures! And throughout the years of my exploring botanical dyeing this method never stopped surprising.

But it’s Spring time, remember? Conditioning the stage for madder root expansion in the garden was not a big deal, in fact. However, my recent urge for setting a vegetable garden (the lockdown sequela) required way more engineering intense arrangements. First came five plastic boxes for vegetable beds – yes, yes, I know, plastic… But, hey, sometimes you just have to to make do with what you got. I didn’t like the idea of poking holes in the bottoms, I wanted to keep the boxes intact. So, I thought I would make a raised mesh bottom supported with fixed wire. Water is supposed to go underneath, and I added a tube for ventilation and also for watering:

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Next, I spreaded agrotextile to separate soil from the plastic walls, added some potting grit and soil.

It took me several hours to finish the construction stage. Planting and sowing took the next couple of days. However, after a period of nice weather we got the temperature dropping from +26C to +8C. Which now makes me really wonder if my efforts prove fruitful.

 

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P.S. Oh, did I mention that seeds were germinated in a plastic bottle? It is a very effective and low maintenance sprouting method. XOXO

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Flourishing butterbur Beavers woke up Full moon in three days

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In this magical time of the year when Nature unveils itself, the most conspicuous recent traces of change around my usual routes just turned into a Haiku style blank verse and appeared as a title of this post.

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Everything in nature resting during the winter, got charged up to come out as the earth is waking up in spring. Flowering Butterbur stock (Petasites vulgaris) gives the river bank a bit of a look of a Martian landscape. Butterbur extract may prevent migraine headaches, they say. Doctors do not know exactly how butterbur prevents migraines, they say. And this, in addition to many medicinal properties of this plant. 

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Spring is all about light. Everything around is opening up and shaking free from winter dormancy. Especially beavers! Beavers do not hibernate, but are less active during winter.

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Obviously beavers are embracing the freedom of spring after a long winter. On my spring exploratory excursion, I encountered a well-built beaver lodge, one I hadn’t known about before.

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Beavers’ ability to change the landscape is second only to humans. their favorite foods include water lily tubers, apples and the leaves and green bark (cambium) from aspen and other fast-growing trees. Tree cutting is part of nature’s cycle, and beaver pruning stimulates willows, cottonwood and aspen to regrow bushier than ever the next spring. 

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Again  we become part of the process of re-creation that is occurring during the season of Springtime! And speaking of being a part of creative process, I just happened to meet these amazing people deeply fascinated by poetry in Haiku style. Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets. I have been always admiring brevity and imagistic language in haiku which makes you feel connected to nature. Haikus are often inspired by nature, a moment of beauty, or poignant experience… And on the other hand, writing haiku provides a new way to look at the world… 

I am so proud that the first issue of Haiku Port Quarterly 1/2018  was published with my participation.  And on the other hand, writing haiku provides a new way to look at the world… 

 

Flourishing butterbur

Beavers woke up

Full moon in three days

 

 

 


The Red Willow of the Equinox

The spring equinox is the best time to start something new. Our sacred sun has returned to bring new beginnings and balance.  This time used to be considered the new year in many parts of Europe until the middle of the 18th century. And what other peculiar facts can we find about spring equinox?

Millennia ago the Lakota people of the U.S. Midwest noticed that every spring, the sun rises in the constellation known as the Dried Willow. Those stars look like nubs on the branch, and the branch represents the red willow. The inner bark of that red willow is the main ingredient used to make tobacco for the equinoctial Sacred Pipe ceremony, which is meant to rekindle the sacred fire of life on Earth…

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The equinox is a day with light and dark of nearly equal length, with the Sun rising precisely in the east and setting precisely in the west. Equinox literally means “equal night.”

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The spring and fall equinoxes are also the only days of the year when a person standing on the Equator can see the sun passing directly overhead.

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Spring is the time of the year when the cycle of life, death, and rebirth is complete. The light and the darkness meet at equal footing…

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An ancient method of tracing the Sun’s meanderings through the sky involves using light and shadow to paint particular images…

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That day upon a portion of useful information, I went watching Nature’s equinox installations on a stormy sea shore and collecting fragments and bits to create a new beginning for something beautiful.

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Finding treasures of this equinox – drops of solidified sunshine on the beach – is so inspiring!

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Memory, Mystery and Magic… Amber is a window to the past. The most attractive quality of amber is that it possesses very old energy. With this old energy comes the acquired wisdom of the earth.

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Amber belongs to a small class of organic gems, neither a crystal nor a mineral, but a biological product of nature, a protective resin that oozed from living trees in dense, prehistoric forests and fossilized over millions of years. Sap is the liquid and Resin is the solid parts of the life essence of a tree. This Life Essence carries the trees Immune system, nutrients and healing properties like blood circulating throughout the body of the tree.

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Amber was used medicinally for thousands of years for headaches, heartaches, and pains of all kinds. Amber is a mixture of hydrocarbons, composed of several tree resins (mostly of an extinct Pine genus, or in some areas extinct Hymenaea species), plant materials, a volatile oil and succinic acid.

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My friend Mara can turn “Gold of the Sea” into intricate talismans of beauty, protection and renewal.

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Meanwhile, on the beach Nature kept playing with light and shade creating incredible structures of ice and willow branches on the sand.

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And when all equinox legends and myths read, “catch” of the day collected, I got down to translating elementary principles of nature into beautiful forms suitable for human use.

“And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

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