61, Abenaki ethno-botanist, artisan,
Weaving together the
skills and stories of
her ancestors, their
intimacy with the
gifts of the land,
and their oppression
in the name of “social
HARVESTING RED OSIER
When the sap is running in the maples,
harvest red osier and it retains the color.
Before gathering, I always leave
tobacco to thank the plant.
My fingers have memories.
My fingers are used to handling plants
and being on the land.
When I’m trying to figure out
what to use for a basket—
I want each one to be different—
the only way is to touch the plant,
to hold it, to use it.
Native people weave two baskets
and bury one as a gift to the red osier.
All the little shoots will eventually grow
into another plant to harvest
when you return.
Red osier makes beautiful dream catchers.
You can bend and shape it anyway you want.
Hang one over your bed or your baby’s crib.
The night air is full of dreams.
The webbing catches all of them.
Bad dreams fly away with the morning sun
and the good dreams flow down through
the feather at the center to the sleeper below.
In the woods, you’re walking through
communities. You want to stop and visit
the berries or mushrooms
on the way to the ash or the willow.
I love how the chickadees lead
and follow you. At first, there are dees
sending the message for danger,
and then they are curious and they play.
They flit ahead of you.
They are good medicine birds.
They make you laugh.
Harvesting Red Osier, 2015, Oil on panel 12” x 18”