The last full moon of winter. We are in one of those not quite this, not quite that times of year. The geese and the horned larks are back. I’ve seen robins and juncos and gulls — at least I did before the most recent flurry of wet snow a few days ago. This isn’t the starvation moon of deep winter but it is a difficult time for all creatures at the mercy of the weather. Not much is left of winter food stores, nothing is growing yet, and the ground is still frozen. The wet and windy weather of early spring is hard on old bones and newborns. But the crows are calling, the sap is flowing, and the days continue to lengthen Inside the house overwintered perennials are slowly opening new leaves.
Beyond gathering food and firewood in autumn, now I have the pleasure of laying in supplies for the winter season of dyeing, too. I was so pleased to find that dry leaves, with no special preparation, can provide wonderful prints after a good soaking. Some of my best results this winter came from fallen leaves I collected and stored in an open basket.
There are still some bags of unidentifiable organic material in the fridge that I believe to be leaves that were not quite dry when gathered. Note to self — use those first next winter. I haven’t thrown them out yet though. I might still see what could come of them in a dye bundle. Hopefully some colour, even if they have lost their original shape.
For many reasons, I do want to use local materials when dyeing. It grounds me in my own little corner of the earth. The process has minimal environmental impact. The results tell a story of water, earth and plants unique to this place. Still, I’m not sure I will ever give up eucalyptus completely! I have one eucalyptus plant that has survived the winter indoors and with luck will be harvesting leaves from it this summer. In the meantime, I am happy to make the occasional trip to the florist for some imported greenery. This lovely bundle should see me through until the neighbourhood turns green again.