The humble bramble, the scratcher, the snarer, the snagger of jumpers, the bearer of tongue staining fruit. It grows everywhere. We pull it from gardens and out of cracks in walls. It is abundant and fast growing; what better then as a raw material for basket weaving, once you’ve got past the thorns.
On a cold January morning, we arrived at the woods. The ground well trodden and soft from the winter’s harsh rain. Down winding paths through ancient trees, we make our way to Ruby’s teaching space; the ashes of past fires and benches in a round. It is still, the air barely moving, but the tips of the trees sway ever so gently in the breeze above us. At first I only notice my movements, until we stop. The call of a raven, the tapping of a woodpecker, the rustle of a mouse. Ruby takes her place under an oak, its limbs stretching tall, welcoming her back. She gives gratitude to all that surrounds us, from the smallest creature out of sight, to the highest bird in the sky. To those who have supported her in some way to be where she is now, in this moment, in this space.
With tenderness and understanding she moves through the land, collecting, foraging. Twigs to make a fire to keep us warm and to make tea, the buds from the bramble to eat; which after the dryness begin to taste like custard. The bramble itself which at this point is unaware of the transformation it is about to make.
Stripped of thorns and leaves, long lengths of fresh bramble are prepared. Laid gently on the ground, ready, waiting. First a strong base is formed, Ruby sat with her legs either side of the bench, working with a birds eye view, while establishing the early formations of the basket. Piece after piece is woven around the skeleton, wrapping, twisting, turning, until it is complete. Not a word was said, not even a whisper. The silence was intense, it hugged the world around us as Ruby creates a basket to hold, contain and exist.
The process is nothing less than pure. Each step trod with care, each sound acknowledged with respect, each material collected with acute knowledge and understanding. We are no longer visitors to the forest, but integrated into its pattern. Coming and collecting only what we needed, not what we wanted. Arriving with a deep understanding of the land from which the bramble and humans have lived on for thousands of years. To honour and respect our history, as humans, as animals, as inhabitants of Earth.