A big weekend

So it has been our first couple of days out and about. And what a big one! We’ve met ecologists, Landcare experts, local activists, Wiradjuri elders, and I’ve introduced the fronds to several of my friends. One person thought I was carrying food for an animal. Perusing a display of the local embroiderers guild yesterday, the women commented on my stitching on the fronds’ carry bag, but seemed unsure of whether to ask what it was. Purslane was still the only one showing its leaves to the world. And so tiny still, you have to look closely to realise there’s anything there.

I’m still figuring out how to explain this project to people. In some places and to some people it comes out well, feels natural. In others it feels like lunacy, I feel awkward, and almost embarrassed of the fronds*.

photo 1

Pancake breakfast with friends and fronds

I’ve been wishing so fervently for more germination, it took all my restraint not to dig up the other seeds to see if anything is happening. Dangerous curiosity. I wasn’t sure if I was imagining a slight mounding of the soil in Honesty’s corner over the weekend. Could it be? Or am I just wishing it to be so? But this morning the signs were unmistakeable- the soil has been pushed up further, and I can see a little glimpse of green, pushing its way incredibly slowly but with determination.

I’ve noticed that purslane closes its leaves slightly at night time, and opens them again in the day. A tiny bud in the centre is slowly swelling, promising future leaves. I find myself thinking quite a bit about logistics and the physical needs of the fronds. My partner D is very generous in helping discuss this. Do I take them out dancing on Saturday night? No, leave them home to rest. Do I keep them inside with me all day at a forum? Keep them near, but them outside on a bench to soak up some cloud-filtered sun. We took them with us on our Sunday explorations, with quite a bit of driving in between. I found myself tilting the pot in my hands to give them more sun, gazing as I did at the glistening juicy purslane leaves- pink and green and mysterious.

photo 3

At a possum-skin cloak making workshop with local Wiradjuri women yesterday. This was where I felt I best articulated what this is about- an experiment in being closer to nature, caring for it, and seeing it as family. Maybe this had something to do with being in a place where objects (e.g. possum skins) are seen to have power, significance and life of their own.

*NB: I’ve been struggling to figure out how to refer to the plant friends in my writing. I think I’m settling on their common names when referred to individually (Purslane, Honesty and Murnong- the latter being an Aboriginal language name for yam daisy, though I’m yet to figure out which language that is). When referred to together I’m adopting Fronds, or the fronds as my term- technically they are not ferns and don’t have fronds, but I like it as a term for a vegetal kind of friend. 

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2 thoughts on “A big weekend

  1. Harking back to problematic of language: I was at SWF recently and a talk by poet/ writer Coyote who has decided to refer to herself/ himself as ‘they’ in all the writing. Such a simple transformative act that left me flailing to adopt it so revealing my own resistances to change and the imprint of English Grammar!!
    Liked how you were able to explain the project at possum cloak w/ shop- yes, I agree with your supposition: the possum skin possesses agency and in this context, your frond project is normalised.

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    • Yes, in some of my friendship circles the default is to use ‘they’, and I know a few people who prefer this as their pronoun not just in their writing but in general life. I am grateful for how this has made me aware of gender concepts in our culture, and of how these have shaped my thinking. It feels empowering to consciously adopt new forms of language. I’ve heard a couple of talks by Susan Faludi lately, talking about her father, who transitioned to being a woman in later life. In one talk, the radio interviewer was struggling with pronouns, and Faludi mentioned that in Hungarian (her father was from there and returned there late in life) there are no gender pronouns.

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