The way of the Willow

Is this the hardest time of year? Spring time brings promise of new life, warmth and longer days but the winter seems to persist. Working on my stall or in my workshop I feel the cold: I feel the nagging wind and long to be released from the tyranny of my thermals. I long to go bare foot again and enjoy the feeling of soft grass between my toes.
I’ve recently been working at a school teaching some pupils to make a celtic frame basket and this has highlighted the therapeutic qualities of basket making. The youngsters spend an hour and a half each week sitting in the sun weaving these baskets and I noticed how absorbed they have become in the activity. Comfortably chatting with each other or working quietly alone: relaxed yet active. In my life prior to basket working i remember the terrible pressure I experienced to “look busy”. It seemed that I had to be looking at my monitor screen even if I didn’t really have much to do at that point in time. Looking at a computer screen signaled that I must be actively employed somehow. Being an employee meant my employer owned me for the hours he employed me.
Working now I am far more productive in much less time and I no longer have the anxiety of looking busy and can experience the joy of being actively absorbed in something creative.
I try to extol the virtues of this active absorption to those who come on my basket workshop. Basket making allows you to leave yourself behind and engage mindfully in the present moment.
More about basketry and the pursuit of mindfulness in my next blog.

Handmade Willow baskets from Norwich