Today is a very Minnesotan April Fool’s day: it’s snowing and 21 degrees. After most of the snow around the Twin Cities has melted, it can be especially disappointing to folks here who’ve already shifted their expectations towards Spring living. Mukluks and all woolens have probably been packed away with ritualistic rebellion as if to say, “Winter, we are DONE.” I’ve learned not to do that anymore. It makes mornings like this sad–where I have to don wool socks, arm warmers, and sensible boots. Instead, I plan on keeping the studio teapot busy while I/we snuggle under the sheepskin and do “computer work,” of catching up on emails and finally blawging.
With this work, I’m truly a slave to the whim of the seasons. But I love it. (I say this, as my harvesting plans for this week may now be thwarted. We’ll see how grateful of this servitude I am in May) It sounds super corny, but I love being tuned-in with the natural world. Stepping to the pace of it’s cycles and meeting it’s deadlines–there’s a balance to all of it that feels right. And it’s not an even balance nor a steady pace. Here in MN (and in Georgia, where I grew up) it tends to be pretty extreme. I love how it challenges me to stay open, flexible, and nimble. I love how it determines the flow of my work. Here's a year in the life of CHEERIUP:
Winter: Deeeeep hibernation, rest, family and friends, a compact existence, incubation of and experimentation with new ideas, weaving on a very small scale or of indoor Thickets, spiffing up the studio, and planning planning planning. It starts out very physical, very much about repairing and balancing my body. Then finishes in a very heady way, with so much mental energy towards planning for Spring, Summer, and Fall. By the end (now), I feel like I've over thought just about every aspect of my business.
Spring: Action, harvesting, preparation, building, connecting with clients and my “good crew” of seasonal helpers. April (and May) tend to be SO intense. It’s filled with the pent-up energy from the end of Winter, ready to do do do. The tendency is to start running, but MN Winter is never quite done until May, so harvesting is a lot of hurry-up and wait. (It’s especially tough for my out-of-state clients who are READY for their Spring Thickets.)
Summer: MAKING, weaving, building, harvesting, coordinating, traveling, connecting with clients (one of my favorite aspects of this work). It’s a wonderfully social time, but also physical exhausting. The pace is non-stop. I sleep GREAT in the Summer. Not a lot of space for thinking, it’s aaaaaaaaall doing. This is why I spend so much time planning during Winter.
Fall: This looks a lot like Summer, actually. It’s the last big push of outdoor Thicket production and installation. It’s also the last chance to harvest as much willow as possible to get through any indoor Winter production. The harvesting during this time can really get bananas. I’m starting to get really exhausted by this point, but it’s also very energizing in terms of having been able to first-hand witness the joy of my clients as they meet their Thickets.