from the last post, about making children’s spaces for the ymca in brampton, i had many opportunities to articulate the challenge of bending cedar saplings into a tunnel, using the inner bark to re-mediate head entrapment worries (as per csa standard) and getting to grip with this eastern white cedar, i recollected something.
sometimes one needs to be in the position to say things out load to really absorb them. i said to a number of people, “i had no idea if it would work, but had already invested days in harvesting, energy in transporting it to the childcare space, and it was not until the moment of bending the first two over and around each other, using unknown muscles to form and shape the poles and distribute pressure so that they would not break, that i knew it would indeed succeed. ”
along with this tirade about cedar, came the shortened version
“i have not worked with cedar in this way, so intimately, since i was 15. ”
it is this second phrase, uttered for humor, and possibly to solicit interest in the tree-too often we are wandering in a grey landscape without differentiation, seeing only colors and hard surfaces, patterns, as when you blur your eyes looking out of the subway, and i would love to bring at least one or two beautiful things in focus a day-that inspired this post. the pictures that surround and follow this post are from a humble and beautiful place, tucked back near a couple of lakes on the southern lower steppes of a dormant volcano in the interior of B.C. near a little town called Salmon Arm, where i grew up. The farm which housed this ‘first nations outdoor classroom’ was the stage which, i am now slowly realizing 14 years later, the primary experience which drew me into the intricacies between the living environment and our relationship in deriving use out of it. long story short, it is the small property where it all started for me, as an artist, educator, and whatever else i am.
one reason for me attaching significance to this place and these images is that this are taken in december of 2011, meaning that the structure pictured, and the little birch bark ties inside of it were made when i was 15, and have been holding the space together for the last 14 years. This is in stark opposition to conservative reality. one would not think that the work we do to fill the summer when we are 15 will last through the coming decades, and have other youth, children and the community in general glean learning an understanding from the ‘recreation’ of this native winter home. one would expect that the time you spent washing dishes when you were 15 would be remembered for roughly the next 14 minutes, not years. this has been a consistent ethical litmus test, to determine the usefulness of my work, and of myself in a community setting…….is it still standing and who interacts with it now.
there are few more soulful activities than wandering through a space you have effected, and seeing that effect still in place years later, standing still and steadfast through numerous seasons and outside and removed from the affected pace of modern north american human culture.
One thought on “speaking of cedar…”
Such beautiful work! Love your point about the value of our work: “….is it still standing and who interacts with it now.” I”m starting a sapling fence today and am now doubly inspired.