Friday, March 1, 2013

Snowshoe Melodies

Haiku My Heart
March 1, 2013

Haiku My Heart is a weekly meme done on Fridays. We gather through Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog and share stories, photos, art and poetry. We visit each other and make our day a little brighter. To see more and learn how you can participate,visit recuerda mi corazon

First pair made in 2013

Deep cotton hillsides
Walking on top of snowdrifts

A thing of beauty

This has been a busy year for me making snowshoes. Five pair in one season. Seeing as I am retired and I don’t advertise for business, that makes it an extremely busy year.

We haven’t had big snow. We still never got that massive snowstorm like we’ve seen out East earlier this Winter season or in Kansas City and other midwest regions recently, but it’s better than the complete lack of snow and cold weather like we've had over the past few years in the upper Midwest. Better for the badly needed moisture in the ground and better for getting out and using snowshoes.

Dark frame, light colored lacing

Bending white ash strips

Textile weaving knots and loops

Uncommon art work

Might it be a statement about the economy? People buying snowshoes? I don’t have any idea. I don’t get rich from making these, and I don’t judge my own prosperity wholly by selling an item or two now and then.

Wolf tracks, wood burned and the toe wrapped in color

Love to see them used

Word gets out by talking heads

And playing in snow

Back in the day when I lived at the Canadian border in extreme Northern Minnesota, the silent Winter sports of dogsledding, cross country skiing, ice fishing and snowshoeing would take up much of the long darkness of Winter. 

My four direction logo

A whole day was wasted getting up, getting dressed in layer upon layer of garments designed to ward off the cold, then, strapping the snowshoes to your boots and pulling a sled laden with ice fishing gear a couple of miles, over a land portage, and onto Duncan Lake. Imagining the life under the thick ice sheet of huge lake trout just waiting to grab the lure, dropping a baited line and sitting there, in the deafening silence, waiting for the phenomenon of a fish striking your hook.

Light frames, dark colored lacing

Why I’ve had times when the 8” diameter hole wasn’t wide enough for the girth of the fish and I’d have to chop out the hole with an iron steel chipper with one hand while holding onto the ice fishin’ stick with the other in order to get it out of the lake. And that’s no fish tail either!

Then there was that hot thermos of coffee, the metal cup/top cap heating your mittened hand. The crushed snack crackers from the parka pocket as I watched an Eagle soar overhead. Getting home, reversing the process of layered clothing, cleaning the fish and eating, thanking Creator for the bounty. Ahhhhh, what a lifestyle I have had the honor and pleasure of experiencing through the years.

The wolf tracks

Traverse across lakes

Cold and snow, a way of life

The frozen tundra

Nowadays, I do like to sit indoors on a cold Wintery day and weave the age old pattern for the webbing as it’s hard for me to breathe that frigid air. I love to think, plan and do the wood burning and see how the burnt carbon area glistens when the varnish is applied. I’ve got a language of my own as well. Loops, crossovers, hitch, half-hitch, turns, wraps. They are all part of the process.

Ironically, I was watching old reruns of TV’s longest running western show, Gunsmoke which blended into an episode of Rawhide while sitting at my table using the Colwood woodburning tool. They were showing branding of cattle on Rawhide. My mind went back to 1840, on the grassy plains of Northeastern New Mexico and I saw myself branding the snowshoes just like they throwed, roped and branded cattle. Who says the old ways are lost and forgotten? Maybe I was there in a former life and that’s how I know how to do it!

These will be fitted with bindings to secure the boots.

Twists, knots, loops on wood

Wrapping, lacing, thick varnish

Lasting a lifetime

Anyway, working on these and other projects has been keeping me busy this Winter. I guess as I think about the fact that today is the first of March and we change the clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time in a week, I managed to exchanged travel to the Southwest for branding. Stay tuned for more finished folk art to show up here as Winter quickly wanes into Spring.



Mark said...

It's been many years since I last walked on snowshoes. I was a young teen in Vermont. But I remember well the feeling of freedom, being able to walk ON TOP of the snow instead of having to slog through it. You, Mr. Craftsman, are giving people that freedom. Oh, joy!

Old Willow Woman

Marit said...

Such a wonderful post, my friend. You took me along with you to the ice, the cold, the fishing, the walking on snowshoes, the branding of cattle, your crafts, ideas and musings are a delight to read!

foxysue said...

Loved the snowshoe story, folk art at its best! Ms Foxy x

Jean said...

Here I am contemplating taking the dog for his run but dreading the cold and deep snow. I think I tried snowshoes years.ago but they were awkward. Better with the skis. There are guys using tents for ice fishing at the flats.

Dawn Elliott said...

I love the journey that you take us on each time you post...this time to winters in Minnesota...that's where my best friend grew up. (Interestingly, her first married name was Duncan, like the lake...hmmm?) Making snowshoes, thinking about the old days, and keeping a folkart tradition alive is a beautiful thing!

Karen said...

A terrific post. Your snowshoes are indeed a work of art.

Kim Mailhot said...

There are many times when your stories remind me of my Dad, Man, especially those where you talk about your connection to nature and the pleasure you get from getting out there. My Dad would have been 72 this year, but has been gone 17 years on March 3rd. I remember one year when I was about ten or so; my sisters would have been 5 and 6. My Dad bought us all beautiful wooden snowshoes and gorgeous leather muluks for Christmas. For quite a few winters, there were hotdogs and cans of beans heated up over a fire in the snowy woods, as he bundled his three girls up and got us up on our perfectly sized snowshoes and took us off on an adventure in the winter landscape.

The craftsmanship and artistry that you put into your snowshoes is remarkable and beautiful. It is an obvious labor of love. Another way that you share your gifts with the world.
Thank you for your stories and your gifts, my Friend.
Peace and love to you.

Laura said...

wow, you made these??? I've always wanted snowshoes, they seem just the right "speed" for me. Yours are gorgeous... please email me about prices... maybe next year, right now cash is tight, but wow to have a pair handmade by you with love, how much more mindful each step would be!

Laura said...

ps. your haiku are beautiful too, of course!!

Mel said...

I shivered and laughed at the one who couldn't get away....and dreamt I was there with the beauty of the snow, the shoes an the frozenness. Oh what grand adventures you pass on. And oh what beautiful artwork you brand.
Just lovely. And as priceless as the artist.

Annie Jeffries said...

It seems that the weaving becomes a sort of meditation for you, Joe. Past and present weaving together create an unbreakable story.

p.s. - We like watching Gunsmoke, too.

Anonymous said...

wow! you are on one creative roll with your post, haiku, photos and snow shoes plus your loving memories of life in the North country ~ thanx ^_^

Gemma Wiseman said...

A fascinating post! Love how the stories are interspersed with haiku and photos! In my ignorance, I had no idea that snowshoes would be handmade. A very special, interesting art form!

gma said...

Beautiful Joe. Fantastic pieces of art and workmanship,as well as useful. What could be better?
Peace to you and yours always

Priti Lisa said...

So ambitious you are Joe.
These are the most beautiful shoes!
Imagine the walks these shoes will have...I imagine them to be perfect heirlooms for generations.
As always, I enjoyed you post so very much, the stories and photos interspersed with are amazing!
PS: Let me know when your package arrives...

deb did it said...

you amaze me. Talented hands, bring such joy

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post today. I love the look of those snow shoes and how you enhance them with your art. And with haiku sprinkled throughout, I enjoyed it so much. What a wonderful and rewarding winter pastime - making useful art!

Hazel said...

It must indeed be uncommon art. It's my first time to see snowshoes shoes. I appreciate the learning I had today. Your haiku went perfectly with your art. Well done!

rebecca said...

dear joe,
you have an amazing gift of drawing people in for a closer look at life. family and living straight from the heart pepper your stories in a way that warms us all. your haiku post is no exception. here you have added the craftsmanship of your knowledgeable hands sharing these beauties!
your haiku are perfect embellishments to your gorgeous work.
and always we are the grateful recipients of your generous love.
thank you for your place in my haiku heart.

Nonnie said...

I too loved the weaving of stories with your marvelous haiku and exquisite, yet practical art!

GYamato said...

(sigh of relief)
so refreshing (as always) Spadoman :)

Noelle Clearwater said...

Hello Joe my friend,
Well I have never walked a mile in those shoes, but they look like real beauties to me! I love your stories and like to imagine you hard at your craft while watching a rerun of Gunsmoke. I can barely recall that series now. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories and giving those of us in southern California who will never use a pair of snowshoes a real sense of their true worth!
Love and Peace to you my friend,

Stephanie said...

You weave the most beautiful tales, like the weaving of your snow shoes. Tales that are both timeless and have a sense of another time. I would love to see you compile these stories in a book...blurb offers a great way to 'slurp' your blog into book form. Many of us would treasure your stories as we held them together.