Indirect impacts

UmbilicariaSeveral months ago I received a really sweet letter from a woman I have never met named Amy. It was titled “indirect impacts, circling back to you”. Amy is a member of a weaving guild in Maine. At one of their monthly meetings, another member, who had recently taken my class, brought in her sample card to pass around. Amy wrote to me, that the purple dye had made a real impression with her, and she asked the guild member about its source. The person who took my class shared with her the story about its slow growth, how it should be harvested from the ground; beneath the rocks where it grows, and the lengthy process used to transform the dye to magenta.

A few months after her encounter with the dye samples, Amy said she took a favorite hike, up a hill that overlooks the river. She remembered that the granite rock faces are covered with the peeling lichen she had seen in the photo handout that the guild member had shared. So she took a look around at the base of the rocks, and to her surprise, found broken off pieces of the lichen everywhere! She first filled her hands, then her pockets, and then her hat!

Amy generously offered to send me what she had gathered, in exchange for nothing more than a fistfull of magenta, and today, I was finally able to honor her request. I am also sending her a few other extremely bright mushroom dyed samples and some soft Umbilicaria dyed alpaca yarn.

Phaeolus schweinitzii with alum, and Umbilicaria mammulata on mohair locks

Her donation was ample, and will supply a year or more classes with the joyful magenta dye. As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding seeing the the excitement that this color brings my students. Well, maybe one thing, and that is hearing that my stories bring others to experience nature’s bounty in a new way.

“We enjoyed our hike. We usually take it for the long view — it’s a rather high spot with great views up and down the river, and it eventually takes you to a tiny cemetery with gravestones from the 1700s. So, yesterday’s hike, in addition to the long view — also included the contrast of the up-close perusal of the leaf matter at the base of the granite outcroppings, and a new appreciation of this fungus. It added to the pleasure of the hike, to be shifting our focus back and forth from the view down the river, to a close examination of what lay at our feet.”

Thank you for this story Amy, and thank you for your donation!