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pine needles

Alongside the road and in the woods, the pine needles have dropped. Where the woods path goes through a stand of white pine, I met a grandmother and granddaughter raking up the fallen needles with small bamboo rakes. They were putting them in a long bag, like a cotton picker's sack. Remarkably, they were both wearing coats of exactly the same shade of copper-orange as the pine needles.

"Are you going to put the needles around blueberry bushes to make the soil more acid?" I asked. "Or are you making baskets? Or maybe you're planning a fragrant bonfire?"

"None of those: we're gathering these for felting," the grandmother said. "I didn't realize how much Bethie'd grown this past year--show the lady, Bethie."

Bethie stuck out an arm and I saw the skin on her bare wrist between the end of her coat sleeve and her hand.

"We're going to make you a bigger one, aren't we?"

Bethie nodded.

"Wow--I didn't know you could make felt out of pine needles," I said.

"Oh no? Well, you can, if you have the knack," the old woman said.

I looked more closely at her coat, and at Bethie's, and saw now that the rich, fuzzy orange fabric was decorated with geometric starbursts of pine needle embroidery--a marvel. The grandmother caught my admiring eye and smiled.

A red-tailed hawk screamed, and for some reason that put me in mind of time passing. Work called.

"Well, good luck with the gathering and the project," I said. "The coats are amazing."

"Thank you," the grandmother said, returning to raking. "You have a nice day now." Bethie waved goodbye, and I continued on the woods path. I looked back once, but they were lost from sight.

Photo: "Carpet of Needles, Delamere, Cheshire," by Ian Helsby on Flickr
Carpet of needles Delamere Cheshire


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 18th, 2014 02:28 pm (UTC)
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:35 pm (UTC)
I had no idea.
Nov. 18th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
(alas, it's fiction--I should make a note to make that clear maybe?)
(no subject) - xjenavivex - Nov. 18th, 2014 04:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 18th, 2014 05:02 pm (UTC)
I have a copper-orange felted hat from a felter in Vancouver. I wonder if some other daughter of these two has moved to Canada, to try her hand with cedar needles...
Nov. 18th, 2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
Could well be! And I passed a spot where larch needles had fallen--a very lovely yellow--which would make felt of another gorgeous shade.

here, by the way, is a lovely pine-needle crown.
(no subject) - mnfaure - Nov. 19th, 2014 07:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 19th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 18th, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC)
I wish that wasn't fiction!
Nov. 18th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I do too. I'd like a felted pine-needle coat.

I'm hoping to find a few minutes to draw a picture...
Nov. 18th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
Remarkably, they were both wearing coats of exactly the same shade of copper-orange as the pine needles.


If this isn't part of something longer, it should be. Or possibly just published as itself.
Nov. 19th, 2014 04:52 pm (UTC)
Maybe sometime I'll find a way to put it into something. So many of the small things I write are just moments, with no larger story--at least not initially.
Nov. 19th, 2014 07:19 am (UTC)
yes, I want this to be 'true'. I want to see that coat!
Nov. 19th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
I'm hoping to draw/color my imagination of it--didn't quite get the chance yesterday.
(no subject) - pinkroo - Nov. 19th, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 19th, 2014 07:42 am (UTC)
What happens when you read while distracted
Bethie stuck out an arm and I saw the skin on her bare wrist between the end of her coat sleeve and her hand.

I read (understood) this as the girl growing out of her felting and needing to add more to disguise what she truly is. I imagined a woodsy creature made of bough and bark, coated in felted pine to make her look more human. Ah, the joys of trying to concentrate while being constantly solicited by wee ones.

The above was a "false" image I had, but I love all the "true" images this evoked for me.
Nov. 19th, 2014 04:51 pm (UTC)
Re: What happens when you read while distracted
I love your "false" image too, and I think it may be one of those divergent true things that can exist simultaneously with other true things. After all, it is not certain at all who those two were....
(no subject) - amaebi - Nov. 20th, 2014 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 19th, 2014 03:47 pm (UTC)
Your picture of the forest floor really looks like felt, with little embroideries of rocks, twigs, and stumps in it. I should have djaza make me a quilt of this - because my little bed is so hard.
Nov. 19th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
I think djaza is one of the people with a knack for felting pine needles. She could definitely make you a soft quilt for your hard bed :-)
Nov. 20th, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
This is a lovely story.:)
Nov. 20th, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks--very glad you liked it.
Nov. 20th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
Great story! Like a fairy tale in limbo, is it true, is it fic?

Missed the clue but suspected fiction, like the suspended gender in Ancillary J!

Just finished Ancil. Sword, also very good.

Best witches, always, ca-madre!
Nov. 21st, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)
Glad you liked this little sketch :-)

Did you like Ancillary Sword as much as Ancillary Justice?
(no subject) - c_maxx - Nov. 21st, 2014 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 24th, 2014 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 21st, 2014 02:32 am (UTC)
Sarah P still walks in western MA.
Nov. 21st, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
And her brother walks in Pennsylvania.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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