Out of hibernation.

It has been a long ‘winter’. Isolation wasn’t very difficult here, living in farm-country, with plenty of boreens to walk and few people to meet. We live rather isolated here anyway. With all timetables, obligations and responsibilities fallen away there was time to finally get lots of jobs done around the house that had been waiting far too long. Last week I finally delivered a basket that the customer was anticipating for several years! (shame on me) I just never got around to making this particular type, after learning it on a course in Spain, years ago. I am glad she remained interested and inquired again a few weeks ago, so I went to work to finally ‘get it done’. I also took time to sow more vegetables than I did last year. There was always another market to prepare baskets for…. and so forth. The fence got repaired (storm damage) and the front garden was thoroughly weeded; a massive amount of brambles went onto the bonfire. I ordered an enormous bag of flour and now make soda bread and scones on a regular basis, as well as treats like beetroot/chocolate brownies and after a friend gifted me some surplus courgettes I baked a sweet courgette cake. In the past I have had to throw out bags of flour because i never finished them before the expiry date. Life has changed!

Treasures from the garden and foraging:

When I ordered seeds, there was some delay and the tomato-seeds arrived too late for sowing. But every year I get offered seedling plants by people who have sown too many so i hoped this would happen again and it did!!! There are now about ten plants growing in the polytunnel and the first green tomatoes are showing. Late frost, wind and slugs have taken their toll on some of my seedlings. I suspect the carrots get guzzled by snails/slugs before they have more than 2 leaves! There is also a neighbour’s cat trying her best to sabotage my peas, cabbage and broccoly, but I remain hopeful I will have at least some of my own vegetables this year. Potatoes and onions are flourishing, the fig-plant is full of fruit and so are the apple trees. My berries are already in the freezer, I managed to outsmart the birds better than ever this year.

So far so good, I found hibernation quite enjoyable, if it wasn’t for the reason behind it and the constant stream of upsetting news from the world outside my bubble. I have gone from great optimism about how we now have time to reflect and reset priorities, leading to a more caring and inclusive community, to utter despair about people’s selfishness, the rush to get ‘back to normal’ and the holy cow ‘the economy. Great admiration for ‘the frontline’ workers who looked after our health, safety and essential services, and exasperated at the lack of leadership by key-figures on far-too-high salaries, avoiding unpopular decisions that would keep us safer. Meanwhile we got stuck with a government of ‘no change’, the opposite of what people voted for and it almost went unnoticed in this worrying time.

Many artists and creatives lifted the spirits by gifting us their talents on social media. I listened to their daily or weekly song sessions, watched artworks develop from start to completion and watched live videos of basketry techniques encouraging me to try them. In the beginning I experimented with a few new weaves, but somewhere in these months I lost my mojo to work with willow. Probably the amount of planning involved (soaking for several days, then using the pliable willow before it dries out again) just did not suit me at this time. I wove very little and ‘retreated’ into my comfortzone: knitting. Hats, gloves, cowls and baby booties galore. But a creative mind can not be stopped, no matter what, I guess. New ideas were spinning, mulling around. Finally I got the courage to try my ideas and now have some wall-hangings made that I am quite happy with. Weavescapes I call them. I combined yarns with willow, crochet with weaving. They will go on show in Dunmore next week, in the shop window of the Country Market. The Country Market has re-opened, re-arranged to comply with safety measures, trading every Friday from 12-2pm.

One door closes, another opens. When the Tuam Farmers Market decided not to re-open that was the end of my regular local outlet. However, some weeks ago I was invited to sell at a new shop in Tuam, so this week I delivered my first selection of baskets to Abbert – Lifestyle Store & Groceries, This new shop is part of Gather restaurant, which has just opened again. During it’s closure the owners finally had time to realize their dream of a shop. Some of the baskets in Abbert lifestyle store at the moment:

New ways.

When everything closed down I realized it was time to start selling on-line. It had been at the back of my mind for a long time but it was unfamiliar territory and seemed like a lot of work. Now that the Farmers market is gone, seasonal markets postponed and no direct contact with customers I decided to overcome my reluctance and my online shop is ready to go ahead! I selected products that I feel confident to send in the post, I put up the pictures, priced and made the whole thing look attractive. I named it MoWillowCrafts and it can be found on Etsy.com Ireland. I am launching it on Saturday 1st August, with a little home-party: pressing the button to open the shop at 7 pm. This is in the shop:

Hibernation is over, time to start a new chapter and the willow-weaving mojo is back!