January 23, 2009

Lessons from infusing pine needle baskets

This week at the Wilderness Certification Program Hawkeye came out to teach us about giving lessons. There are different ways which people learn, and different ways to give lessons. Lessons can be learned through direct experience (sometimes hard lessons!), through repetition, and (my favorite) through coyote teaching. We practiced all of these methods thoroughly and had a blast the whole time. We learned how to make primitive hangers too. Sometimes you need to dry things like herbs or clothes, and with the direct experience of making primitive hangers we learned that lesson. They also can serve to smoke meat if hung above a fire. Coyote teaching is a method of getting a student to answer his or her own question. Each time a question is asked, the answer is another question. It can be frustrating, especially when you know that the teacher knows the answer. But how much of what your teachers said in class do you remember?

On Thursday we learned about wild herbal teas and how to draw out different nutrients and medicines from different plants. We made some dandelion root tea, which was full of vitamin A and iron. Later on we ate the leaves in quinoa veggie peanut sauce dish. We learned the difference between infusions and decoctions. Infusions are made by steeping the herb in hot water and letting it sit for a period of time. Decoctions, on the other hand, are made by boiling the root, flower, stalk, and/or leaves in the water for at least a few minutes. Karen Sherwood, our ethnobotany medicinal herbalist superwoman gave us a gift of her cold/flu formula, which is a mixture of... maybe I won't let out the secret!

Friday Karen was back to teach us basketry. We used ponderosa pine needles from the East Cascades which we gathered in November. We learned different stitches and used a coiling technique, which is different than the plaiting of our cedar bark baskets. This coiling technique is used to make water tight baskets that can hold more weight. Starting the basket was a bit frustrating but once you got into the flow of things it became much more fun. These baskets will hold not only berries or other foods but our personalities for years to come.

1 comment:

jknight said...

What a treat! I haven't had a chance to read the blog in a while. This lovely cold has forced me to finally sit for a bit and how glad I am that I did! (Still, I am tempted to tease Karen's cold remedy from you). I am continually amazed and inspired by all the beautiful photo's and fun stories from your class days. Thank you for sharing with those of us who dream of being out there with you all!
With the warmest regards,