Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How long is your needle?

Many of you know that I’m pretty good when it comes to bird stuff, but I also revel in learning something new each day.  Well, today was an adventure in learning for me.  My friend, Jack, arrived in the area last night, and our mission for today was to find him some more long leaf pine needles to bolster his supply for making pine needle baskets.  I figured we would just go out on the Dee’s Nature Trail and rake up a bunch of long leaf pine needles and be done with it.  Jack’s verdict was, “Not so, Grasshopper, we need fresh green needles greater than 12” in length.”   After mumbling under my breathe a minute, my response was, “Yes, Sensei (sp?).” 


Before we left on this little adventure, Jack showed me three of the baskets that he had already made.  It is an old Native American skill for using materials at hand.  These small baskets are beautiful and quite intricate.  Back in the day, they were woven together with animal sinew.

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Then he presented me with this little basket as a gift.  This basket represents eight hours of work after the needles are prepared for weaving by drying and then boiled in glycerin for 4-6 hours.  These particular pine needles came from north Florida.

After checking in with Doug, at headquarters, for some good places to look for needles, we were on our way.

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After about 30 miles or so, we pulled over at several spots and Jack whipped out his tape measure.  Jack is very discerning.  Thinking smile (read: picky about his needles)


This bunch qualified for his acceptance; averaging about 16”.  He only takes a small handful from each tree so as not to harm these young trees.  It was a challenge for me to change my perspective from scouring the habitat for birds to judging the length of pine needles as we drove along.  What a hoot for me!

IMG_6024This bough didn’t cut the mustard.  Could you tell that driving down a road?  Jack could.  By the end of our search, I did find a tree or two that was acceptable.  Not sure how that will help my resume.  Smile


Heading back toward home, we made a short detour to the Pecan House. (I thought it was called the Nut House)  Since my granddaughter Avery will be visiting in a week or so, I needed to stock up on some honey roasted pecans for her.  She fell in love with them when I brought some with me to Indiana last summer.  I tried to get a picture of Jack exiting from the quaint outhouse on the left, but it turned out blurry since I was giggling while I took the picture.

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Since it was way past lunch as we returned from our excursion, we stopped at The Shed for some Bar-B-Que on the way home.  I’ve shown pictures of this dive before.  Jack had the brisket (on the left), and I had the spare ribs.  If you like Bar-B-Que, this place is tasty.


I’ve put in an order with Jack for one of these baskets using slices of black walnut for the center and handles.  He has said that he will use the needles from Mississippi that we collected today to make it.  Cool beans!  Now, if I could just find some real animal sinew for him to use to weave it…

I’ve got a packed van for the crane tour tomorrow.  Hopefully we’ll be successful.  Jack will be a key player in this tour as I’ve asked him to be in charge of opening all the locks to the gates we have to go though… (Winking smile)

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy