Colours to dye for

Some time ago I had read an article on ancient dyes – this was specifically on the blue which was used by the Picts and Celts, which we all became familiar with on the warrior faces in the film Braveheart. This really tickled my interest, and together with my love of walking in nature and growing things, realised that there is so much around us that is full of colour – and in the modern instant world we live in –  have forgotten everything our forefathers did to extract the beauty of nature.

I have since become quite obsessed, and when I am out walking, keep looking for plants that can yield a dye. The best thing of this whole newly found passion, is that I am actually forcing myself to learn more about the plants that grow in the fields – and in my garden. This will enable me to know what and when I can forage. And I just love that I’m am learning a new skill, and learning more about my natural surroundings.

The pantry is now full of bottles of various potions, I have bags of red and brown onion skins, little boxes of bark, and of lichen which I’ve picked up off the forest floor. The deep freeze has little room for food at the moment – instead there are bags of elderberry, blackberry, avocado pips, and passion fruit skins – these donated by a dear friend.  I have sourced two  good books, an already far to small pot, and various other things collected to start experimenting.

I sourced organic cotton scarves from a  UK  based company , and waited for quite some time before they had stock,  and then I was very excited to  know their arrival was imminent. In my mind I was going to make beautiful natural dyed scarves in various patterns, using different techniques, and different materials. And then I slipped and badly broke my shoulder –  for months I could only just sit and look at the most beautiful fabrics and wait.

But, these things pass, and as I healed up,  have managed to make a start. Experimentation is definitely key here;  I have read – and now experienced  – that there are so many variables, you never really know what you are going to get, and this makes it so much more interesting. Different water, different soils, different seasons, types of fabric and mordant techniques – all play an important part. I have learnt so far that I need patience, and more patience if I am to succeed, and need to just keep trying.

I am very happy with the few pieces that I have made up to now though. Here are some photos of cotton dyed with a variety of natural materials found on my doorstep. Plants like ivy leaves, rudbekia flowers , dhalia leaves, onion skins and blackberries from last year.  I have learnt new terminology as well , for example ” fugitive” which means that the dyes don’t last and fade with time or in sunlight. This is mostly the case with dyes made from things that you can eat.

I just love the soft shades, and really look forward to developing this skill.  I am also planning on planting a dye garden this year – my love of gardening, crafting and sewing all in one  – Perfect 😉

 

 

 

The Breath and the Silence

The sun settles on the horizon,

Colours of orange, and red merge with blue.

Birds flying to roost leave their black silhouettes, like hand drawn lines on canvas.

Everything changes now from pinks to purple, while the heat ebbs ,

And night takes hold.

The warmth; and the smell of hot dust; rises from the ground.

I must be back in Africa, I think to myself.

 

I can hear the frogs, and the distant sound of a jackal on the prowl.

Firewood is gathered, kindling packed neatly, the match strikes.

I watch the fire start, small flames which grow bigger and bolder

And then roars gently, until the wood glows with embers.

The flames dance slowly, to an ancient rhythm that time has forgotten,

I remember these times – and the smell of coffee drank from a tin cup,

Fresh meat sizzling on the coals, an iron pot boiling away

 

In my last resting place, with the stars and moon to watch over me;

The camp fire for light and warmth,

The night cools and sleep comes so easily with no restless thoughts,

No anxious dreams, no pain or discomfort.

But then…. suddenly the night draws to an end, the fire has seemingly died, and it is cold

Cold to the bone, and I realise I am now alone

With my thoughts of life, and what I will miss,

Choices I’ve made that were right or wrong.

 

This is, after all, what is left, this is what lies between the breath and the silence

When all is said and done, a dream and a memory. A yearning.

I must be back in Africa, I think to myself.

But this is only what lies between the last breath and the silence

 

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YesterYear

This is it

Here we are

Words……shouted, screamed.

Old wounds ripped and bleeding

Skeletons fallen from the closet

Bones scattered in every direction,

Never to be found again…to be put back

Hidden from sight,

Forever scratching at the door

Forever a weight to bear

Forever aware of the rattling

Of the ghosts from yesteryear

This is it

Here we are

Words……choked, unspoken

Wounds raw and decaying

The bones lost forever

The soul bereft

Not able to see the light

Only despair

And sorrow

And tears

And sadness

From the ghosts of yesteryear

First play

Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and Me

Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and me

Met just before dawn, next to the cedar tree,

I looked up at the crescent Moon so bright

And there they were, all three, what a sight!

The sky was crystal, so crystal clear,

Millions of stars shining, no clouds near.

No one about, no one to see,

Just Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and me.

Venus was saying ”What is the matter

With planet earth, why just look at her,

Her colour is fading from blue to brown?”

Jupiter said this has made him frown,

He has heard of the pollution, plastic waste,

Human wars of killing and nature displaced.

No one about, no one to see

Just Venus. Jupiter, the Moon and me

”I have been around” said the Moon – grey toned

”For aeons and aeons from when dinosaurs roamed,

And never before have I witnessed

How creatures down there have died from sickness,

From to much of everything and to much of nothing

From to much hating and to little trusting”

No one about, no one to see….

Just Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and me.

I whispered with clouded breath to Venus

”What do you think will become of us?”

Jupiter let out a ragged sigh,

While Venus thought it would be better to lie

But Moon said – ”No, just tell true

Everything will die… and so will you”

No one about, no one to see

Just Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and me

”When?” I asked, ”when will this happen?

Before green fields die and forests blacken?”

Venus was silent, Jupiter shed tears of sadness,

They know – these three – there will be no end to the madness,

Humanity wont learn in time they say,

To save themselves, to save the day

No one about, no one to see

Just Venus, Jupiter, the Moon and me

 

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Cleansing

Let the wind rise up,

burn your cheeks red with cold

and make your eyes water

so that you have to breathe deep,

feeling your lungs expand with surprise

as you remember how to feel alive…

Watch the autumn sun rise

as you lift your face to the breeze,

and feel the last warmth on your skin.

Hear the sea crash on the sand

and lick the salt from your lips

.or is it the taste of your tears

you have waited for in vain…

 

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Spring is Here

At last, Spring has arrived. When I take Pepe out for his morning walk before going to work, I have the added pleasure of watching the sunrise while we are out.  On our way back home, the sun is properly above the horizon, and I can then feel the warmth of the sun on my face, such an uplifting sense of joy.  That is,  if the skies are clear. No need for a torch, or gloves or a scarf. I still wear my beanie or woolly hat in the morning, more to disguise my dishevelled appearance from just waking up, as opposed to getting cold. There is still the odd bit of frost about, so it will be awhile before I can go out in just t-shirt and shorts. My African blood  struggles with the colder weather, and my bones sometimes ache for the African sun.

The only sounds in the early morning are the birds. The dawn chorus is beautiful. The song thrush sits high in a tree to catch the warming rays while it sings, black birds scuttle in the undergrowth. The robins sit on top of the hedge alongside the path, and are in no hurry to move along, they flit about and don’t stop singing, unless going to ground to catch a nice juicy worm. I walk past the back of a school, and now often see a buzzard sitting on the football goal post – they will find open patches of lawn to find worms and other insects, when food is in scarce supply this time of the year. I have seen a pair of them, and hope that they breed here this year.  Pepe forages amongst the damp grass, and his beard soaks up water like sphagnum moss. The sky changes from a rich colour of grey/blue slate, to a pinky hue as the sun creeps up, while the moon hangs suspended like a silver party ball on the opposite horizon.

In the distance the sun catches the old church clock, the brass and gold bits enhanced by the morning sun. I can see by the time that sadly we need to move along, its time to get back home. On the way back we bump into a pheasant, I see him quite far ahead in the path, and wonder where he is of to. I have heard the pheasant on and off, but have not been fortunate to actually see one here. My photo is sadly a bit grainy, but glad that I have seen him in person.

We leave the fields, and head for home, the kitchen will be warm and inviting. While I sit down to take off my walking shoes, Pepe will come and stand next to me, and lean against my legs, as he wants his collar and harness off. I unclip his harness and collar, and he scuttles upstairs, he doesn’t wait for me, he is taking himself back to bed. I get the kettle on and catch the aroma of the coffee as I fill my mug with boiling water. I rinse the spoon at the basin, and look down the path to the bird feeder, the little blue tits are eating the peanuts, and the tulips are suddenly all open – reds and yellows. I just sigh, life is  good, I am content.

 

 

The Weekend is Here

Grab your camera, grab your phone

Walking app on – don’t head back home

Head for the hills, meadows and streams

Climb over the stiles, and dream your dreams

Feel the air fresh on your face

Take a deep breath………forget the rat race

Nature is calling, get out there

The weekend is upon you, don’t despair!

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