Friday, April 20, 2012

Life Lessons In Willow Green And Denim Blue

It was already a balmy 33 degrees when I got up this morning, so I don't expect last night's three-inch snowfall to last long. A few minutes ago, the sun came out. Before both the sun and the snow are gone, I wanted to capture the brilliant greens against the white snow. Then it got me thinking about another color -- denim blue.

First, the greens. Because of unseasonably warm weather this spring, I juggled my to-do list and harvested like a maniac last month before the willow could start to leaf out. But there's still plenty of willow standing. Some, like the one above, will be cut in June (or May, the way this year is going) and peeled for the bark I use in fabric dyeing.

In our area, trees are starting to leaf out now. That makes them really vulnerable to wet, heavy snow like this. But my willow was shedding snow and springing back upright as I snapped pictures. It's so resilient.

Willow is often used as a metaphor for resilience. I like to think a little of that characteristic attaches to the fabrics I dye with willow and passes along to the people who wears them.

Our ancient ancestors wore colors and patterns they deemed efficacious to creating desired outcomes, like good hunting, or the display of status. How different are we? In Wisconsin during football season, "Packer Friday" means you'll see green and gold on your bank teller, supermarket checker, and insurance agent. In politics, in the boardroom, in high school hallways, people use textiles and clothing to communicate who they are (or want to be) and what they think is important.

That's why I'll be wearing jeans on April 25. Denim Day is part of a nationwide campaign to prevent sexual violence.

Whether it's blue, green, pink, red, black, white, or rainbow colors, we all have clothing that makes a statement. Sometimes we wear things that let others know what we believe. Other times, we choose garments that remind us of what we can be.

What do you reach for?

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