Spring has SPRUNG. As a family, we’re out in the woods alongside the Mississippi River almost every day, exploring the woodland understory of native plants (my favorite!), identifying mushrooms, finding toads and snails, getting barked at by a red fox, and getting rattled at by a Western Fox Snake (!!!). The world feels lush and ALIVE. However, in very sharp contrast, CHEERIUP is completely stalled.
The rapid, massive snow melt combined with the prolific Spring showers we’ve had here in Minnesota over the past few weeks has made it impossible to access the wetlands where native willow grows. Everything has been deeeeeeeep underwater for weeks now. And it’s not subsiding! I’ve waded into areas to harvest small batches before, but it feels really disruptive to the habitat, not to mention being a muddy mess.
Since I work with only wild-harvested local willow, sourcing the willow is a full-time job. While I love the experience of spending days outside harvesting myself, I prefer using “waste” willow that's cleared by others who have been hired to manage overgrown areas. I try to catch the willow before it's discarded to the large organic waste sites. But even those partners can’t get in anywhere right now to clear. So here I am, three Thickets behind in production, driving around the state hunting for new, non-flooded areas of willow and pestering my carefully curated web of wonderful folks with calls and emails titled, “Willow yet?”
I should be in a full thrust of production and self-promotion–this is my season to move and connect with new clients. Perhaps I'm too honest, but it just doesn’t ethically feel right to seek new projects while I'm currently back-ordered. Thankfully, my current clients are wonderfully patient and understanding. They know this is out of my control. But I still feel horrible. Sigh.
This is what it looks like when your livelihood is dependent on Nature. It's an experience that most of us modern folks are very disconnected from. It's why when people ask me how long it takes me to make a Thicket, I say months. This is the part of this work that’s ugly–the part that’s ulcer-making, the part that’s expensive, the part that’s fragile. Last night a wise and kind friend suggested to me, "but maybe it’s also the part that makes it special?" We'll see. For now, onward with fingers and toes tightly crossed for these high waters to recede.