I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Friday, April 26, 2013

Retreat in the Sagebrush

I've been in Dayton, Nevada on a three day retreat with friends. We did this last year and we were invited again. I guess we behaved ourselves well enough the first time for our hostess to invite us back this year. So off we drove to Dayton, for food, friendship, being creative and just having fun... and we did have fun!
The four of us met above Pioneer on Carson Pass and actually got everything into one car. Our hostess drove us up over the pass...
It was a lovely spring day in the mountains. I'm always in awe of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I forget that I live so close to such beauty. Driving over the pass into Nevada is a beautiful experience. There wasn't that much snow at the pass and I was surprised at the lack of it elsewhere.. but Caples and Red Lake were still frozen over.
These were my partners in fun at the Carson Pass.
 We took a quick break and then continued on into Nevada, ate lunch at a Basque restaurant, and stopped at a wonderful little art gallery store and theater in Carson City.
 I really wanted this sign. I love old neon signs.
Before I could figure out how to pack it into the car, the lady inside said that it wasn't for sale. Darn! I even had a wall for it in my house. So we walked around looking at some very good art that was for sale.
There were baskets...
and glass art, jewelry, paintings and drawings by local artists. There was a small restaurant and a theater in this old brewing company building.
 This charming creature, made from found metal pieces, looked so cute on the little chair that I just had to take a picture of it...
 Sometimes you have to exercise a little self control when it's the first stop of the trip and "impulse buying" space in the back end of the car was at a premium. So we looked around and moved on.
We stopping at Tuesday Morning in Carson City and Trader Joe's for a few important items like ice cream, cookies and candy.
When we arrived at the house, we  disembarked and choose bedrooms.  Then we began our BASKETS. Making baskets has taken on a whole new respect for me. I will never look at a basket again without knowing how much work goes into making it. I will never say, "Well, it's just a basket." every again. I don't care what kind of basket it is... their is a process and a skill involved with making that basket that is one of the most creative endeavors known to mankind.
This was the beginning of my basket. You are looking at the bottom of the basket.
 Our hostess showed us every step, slowly, with wonderful direction and patience. She had made two of them recently, so we had examples to strive for. All of these pieces of reed and twine have to be soaked before you can weave or bend them. It was a very creative feeling to watch my own hands work on this basket.
I felt as if I was carrying on a tradition that my ancestors started. Some Cherokee woman sitting by a creek weaving strips of reed together... making a basket to carry wood, or food, or a baby. Talking to her friends, laughing and telling stories to each other. It's all the same. Except we are soaking our pieces of reed, that we bought on the Internet, in the laundry room sink and sitting in the comfort of a lovely home. But, the idea came to me as we sat around that table together, doing something so old and necessary, that we may recreate the memories of our ancestors because we subconsciously want to continue the traditions.  Also, because there is something elemental in the process.  Maybe it's an ingredient in the recipe of our past. It was a good feeling.... until I got to the part where we had to fold the "spokes" over the rim of the basket with a 3 in. over lap, cut them and hold them with clothes pins while we wove them into the inside of the basket. I didn't take any photos of this because I never picked up the camera again. I had some cranky moments when my fingers ached from pushing the reed pieces into the already woven basket. We all finally got the baskets sides secured, so we put them aside for the evening.
We ate a nice dinner, talked at the table for a long time and then each of us went to our rooms to get some sleep... each dreaming differently about this moment in our lives. In the middle of the night I woke up to a full moon and an owl hooting. I had opened the window before I fell asleep. I got up and stood at the window listening to the owl and marveling at the brightness of the full moon. The air smelled wonderful. I thought about this place before houses, golf courses and air fields and so many people. How the tumbleweed would have only stopped  at the bottom of the mountains and not piled up against fences and the wild horses would have walked across the whole valley without having to cross a busy highway. It must have been beautiful then. It's beautiful now when you look in the right directions.
 I promised myself to get up early in the morning and walk out beyond the houses to the field filled with wild bushes, birds and rabbits. I went back to bed and dreamt of walking toward wild horses... but I don't remember much more.
Tomorrow I will write about my walk into the fields of sagebrush and watching the sun rise over the Virginia Range...


  1. beautiful post...just went out into Texas where there was nothing but us for about 10,000 acres and it was an amazing holy feeling.

  2. you are so aware of our connection to this Earth and our past. I see the same way you do and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can't wait to see your basket and hear more of your trip.

  3. wow. what a cool trip....basket weaving...how cool is that....and great to spend time among your friends as well...thanks for the peek in on your trip

  4. Another great post. Your mention of Carson City brought back the memory of my getting married there. You will have to show us your finished basket. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  5. How fun, your basket looks great so far!! I just finished my yearly retreat in Lake Tahoe, 19 women in a huge 7+ bedroom home. We scrapbook and make cards, etc. for 3 days, lots of fun and talent.!!!!

  6. What a nice retreat!! Sounds like so much fun. I am anxious to see pictures of the finished baskets too.

  7. Working in ancient crafts can bring us back to our roots and you have portrayed these feelings so well. I can almost feel the air and smell the sagebrush.
    I can't wait to see the finished product. I have tried basket making on my own but it was a mess.
    One day I would love to learn the proper way. Have fun!


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