Photography copyright Andrea Paterson 2016.
It rained on the west coast for 28 days out of the 31 days in October. Some of that rain came courtesy of storms that caused power outages and cost one person their life. The fall has not been particularly kind and the November weather forecast shows more of the same–rain, wind, skies like dull pewter. The sun becomes a rare and cherished visitor, putting in brief appearances that barely provide time for lifted spirits before disappearing into the thickness of rain-heavy clouds again. The mornings are dark, the afternoons are dark, the evenings are black and sodden.
The wheel of the year turns on the eve of October 31. I can almost hear the chants of ancient ancestors in the thrum of rain against the window. The nights are long, making room for specters and introspection. And while I may miss the bright sunshine a part of me thrills, because it is the Making Season. With weather keeping us predominantly indoors I turn to quiet activities and all things wooly. I whisk out favourite hand knit sweaters and cardigans; I sort the yarn stash; I organize the felting supplies; and warmth comes in through working with fibers and the repetitive lulling of knitting needles, felting needles, the whir of a sewing machine.
Right now I’m making felted mushroom ornaments, a silk and wool sweater that has been on my needles since last Christmas, and an assortment of gifts that shall remain secret for now. I have a great desire, this year, to make a portion of my gifts. I think there is a creative urge left over from giving birth–it lingers like the hormones that still circulate in my body and change my perspective on the world. I made a human, so surely I can make a few gifts, my body seems to say. I have momentum and a spark that was extinguished in the haze of postpartum depression and has now been reignited.
The days are cold and damp but my baby girl smiles whenever I enter a room and there is no fire more warming than that grin. I make her a hat, then a matching one for me, because we’re barely different entities yet and I still feel like she’s a part of me.
In the evenings I surround myself with friends and we craft together. I make mushrooms because the Fall is rife with them. They sprout up on the boulevards and in parks–beautiful and confusing, sometimes edible, sometimes poisonous, sometimes medicine, sometimes deadly. The amanita muscaria is a poisonous hallucinogen. The death cap mushroom has already been spreading tragedy and illness. They have fascinated me since I saw my first fly agaric mushroom throwing its garish red head up from the earth outside my residence at UBC. They are wonderfully enmeshed in their environments, forming underground communities and speaking to the surrounding ecosystem of trees. They feel like secrets, lying dormant, and then sprouting up overnight. They’re furtive and they delight me, though I also feel wary and want to keep my distance.
As the mushrooms go back to the earth winter will set in, and with it the call to mid-winter festivities. From now until New Year it is the Making Season, with its slow burning embers that will bring us through to Spring. My doors are open, things will be baking, and I hope that lots of you will drop by for crafts and wine and laughter to chase away the chill.