I was dusting yesterday and stopped for a minute to look at our Hopi baskets. I love the way pastel ribbons have been woven into this one. I just finished reading Robin Kimmerer’s beautiful book Braiding Sweetgrass. In one chapter Robin tries her hand at weaving a basket along with the skilled craftspeople of the Pigeon First Nation. She discovers just how intricate and difficult basketweaving is. Robin admires the skill and perseverance required to make a basket.
Hopi women have been making baskets for hundreds of years
We watched women making baskets on the Hopi Reserve when we lived there. Some of the baskets were huge and sold to European collectors for thousands of dollars.
My grade one class in our Hopi school
The small baskets we own were gifts from our students’ families during the year we taught on the Hopi First Nation. Each of our three Hopi baskets are unique. I love the pattern and vibrant color of this one. Our Hopi baskets are woven from the fibres of the yucca plant. Originally the baskets were made for practical purposes like carrying and storing food but they are also clearly expressions of art.
Woman collecting yucca for a basket- photo from the book Hopi by Susanne and Jake Page
Annabelle Nequatewa of the Hopi Nation weaving a basket – photo by Helga Teiwes- from the University of Arizona archives
Author Robin Kimmerer says the baskets in her house bring back memories of the people and places where they were made.
Our baskets bring back memories of the gorgeous landscape on the Hopi First Nation and the warm and wonderful people who were our neighbours, colleagues, students and friends during the year we lived there.
Village on the top of a mesa on the Hopi First Nation
My husband with the basketball team he coached on the Hopi First Nation
Common Threads- The Hopi
The Consolation of Water Lilies
My grade one class in our Hopi school
Our family lived for a year on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona and taught in a school there run by the Mennonite Church. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to explore Hopi faith and culture. We were invited to many dances and community events in the villages where our students lived. Our younger son was a participant in Hopi Head Start and this gave us a chance to spend lots of time with other young parents and learn how their spiritual beliefs had guided their lives and guided the life of their people for thousands of years.
Our son ready for the eagle dance
When our son’s Head Start group was asked to do the eagle dance at a religious gathering the other fathers helped Dave make our son’s giant eagle feathers, taught Dave to sing the song that would accompany the dance and included him and our son in all the rehearsals. I had tears in my eyes as the elderly Hopi women of the eagle clan tenderly brushed the feather’s on our son’s back as he finished dancing with his friends. The Hopi religious ceremonies were so colourful and full of music and drama and dance and gift-giving and eating and intergenerational teaching and relationship building. I often stopped to think about how austere my own faith’s worship practices were in comparison. And there were many common threads.
Traditional piki bread made by the Hopi from blue corn
Just as we said grace before a meal the Hopi took a tiny bit of food from each serving dish on a table and placed it in a bowl outside the door on the ground as a thank you to the spirits. Just as we dedicate babies in our churches they had meaningful and celebratory baby naming ceremonies to which we were invited. We baptize young people in our faith and they had special ceremonies in their kivas to induct teens into their kachina society.
My husband with the Hopi basketball team he coached
Dave who taught and coached this age group at the school was even invited to attend one of these initiation ceremonies. His willingness to do that and our readiness to participate in Hopi dances and allow our son to do so was questioned and criticized by some church members. They warned us to be wary and careful about getting over-involved in Hopi spirituality but we figured if we were teaching the children about Christianity at the school we needed to be accepting of the invitations they gave us to learn about their spirituality.
Our son with a good friend when we were living on the Hopi Nation
Living among the Hopi people for a year was a memorable experience for our family. We learned there were many common threads between our faith and the faith of the Hopi. We saw God in our Hopi students and their families and their insights, traditions and practices helped us embrace God’s mysterious presence in the world.
Visiting Hopi Mission School
This is me walking home after work yesterday on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. I’m taking a photo of a snowflake artwork featuring the Provencher Bridge on the windows of the Portage Place Shopping Center. If you look at my reflection I’m wearing my winter coat. I needed to because the temperature was -7 degrees.
This is my husband Dave yesterday riding his bike and golfing in Gold Canyon Arizona where he’s on a little holiday with his friend Rudy. Notice he is wearing shorts and sandals and the flowers are blooming and the grass and trees are green. The temperature is 24 degrees.
A study in contrasts.
Widow For a Week
Streets of Gold Canyon Arizona
Gold Canyon Days
My brother-in-law and sister in law’s time in Phoenix overlapped with ours by a couple of weeks. Although their rented home is over an hour away from ours we have still managed to get together for two games of golf, a lunch and supper that included our children and grandchildren, a night at the Handlebar restaurant and dinner at Arrivedercis a family owned and operated Italian place with fabulous food. We also managed to fit in a few games of euchre. We always have a great time with Paul and Shirley!
Showing Off Our City
Trilliums Food For the Soul
Filed under Arizona, Family
During my four year old grandson’s stay with us in Arizona we had so much fun creating art together.
We drew turtles using a ceramic turtle as our model. My grandson labeled his turtle in French because that’s his first language.
We created these masks together in the art studio at the Phoenix Children’s Museum during the afternoon we spent there.
We both like coloring. I knew my grandson was learning about Canada’s north at school so I brought an Inuit art coloring book for him. One rainy afternoon we spent about an hour coloring. He colored Bountiful Sea by Meelia Kelly while I worked on a portrait in my Women Artists’ Coloring Book called Portrait of Princess Belozersky by Marie Louise Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun.
We used the construxs building toys I’d brought along to make a bunch of different machines. My grandson made a gum machine and a toy machine. I made a music machine and a sandwich machine.
One sunny morning we both sketched the different plants we saw in our backyard.
Another morning we used stones to make three faces. My grandson labeled them George, Jean and Jack after the three main characters in a story about three coyotes which his grandfather continued each night. After it got dark Dave lit a fire in our fire pit wrapped our grandson in a cosy blanket and they created another chapter in their ongoing saga about the adventures of George, Jean and Jack.
Stones were featured in this art project as well where we used thin tipped felt markers to create faces and scenes on the flat sections of stones.
On Tuesday we decided to draw two iguanas sitting on a rock. My grandson drew and colored the little iguana and I did the big one. We colored the rock together. We discovered the spelling for the word iguana is exactly the same in English and French except for the last letter.
But my favorite art piece from our week together is this portrait my grandson drew of me.
Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece
I Love My Job
When Did You Stop Drawing?
Filed under Arizona, Art, Family
It rained pretty much all weekend here in the San Tan Valley. That’s not the kind of weather you hope for on a trip to Arizona and we had to get creative with finding activities especially for our four year old grandson. But the upside of all that rain is that the desert has started to bloom. Yesterday was a sunny beautiful day and we went for a family hike with our children and grandchildren on the Dynamite Trail in the San Tan Regional Park. I had hiked it with my friend Justina recently and there was not a flower in sight. Yesterday when we hiked it there were beautiful little yellow and purple blooms popping up everywhere. Desert flowers are a more common sight here in late March and April but yesterday we got a little preview of what that must be like. There was a silver lining to those showers.
The Flowers of Jamaica
The Flowers of Costa Rica
Exploring Gros Morne National Park