10 August 2009

Basket weavers

My family surname is a German word; it literally translates to the English noun, basket. Consequently, I have invented a personal theory that my paternal ancestors were basket weavers, artisans. I imagine they created beautiful, useful baskets, undoubtedly valued by those who possessed them.

Today my mind lingers over the latter part of the word basket weaver. Weaving is a method of joining together, bonding, adding strength. Pine needles alone have little strength, however, when birds weave them together, the needles create a sturdy nest: a home for baby birds. The basket, as a metaphor, is beautiful on many levels.

Just as humans have the capacity to hold love, knowledge, compassion, baskets complement through their basic function of holding the necessary commodities of life. Human hands weave together reeds, creating a product both intricately lovely and durable to function as an accompaniment to daily human life: collecting herbs, mushrooms, vegetables, transporting products to market, carrying a meal.

We covet the modern descendants of baskets: purses, handbags, utilitarian totes, satchels, bookbags and backpacks. But in an effort to recapture simplicity in our lives, we still turn to baskets to lovingly hold special personal items, our bathroom towels, kitchen spoons, pencils, flowers. The charm of the basket in our home today is linked to the knowledge that it originated as an ancient human expression of creativity and practicality.

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