Monday, March 23, 2009

Time and Distance

About two years ago, I got an email from someone I did not know, asking me if I would be interested in traveling to a place I did not know, Tasmania, for a SpinIn in 2009. I said yes.

I knew no one in Tasmania, nor did I really know what the SpinIn was all about. But I said yes, knowing that spinners I have met from around the world are in many ways of like mind, and usually people I want to get to know.

What a difference time and distance make. Now I have been to Tasmania, I have met the people who invited me. I feel like I have friends halfway around the world and that Tasmania is another home:
with di and chris on the beach

Australia was wonderful, in many senses of the word. It is a wonder that a place can be so far from home, and yet feel so comfortable, so like home. The topography looks like home (well, like Northern California, which I call home):
Tree Orford March 2009

People were kind to us, friendly, and mostly speak English, although it is true we can say we are separated by a common language. There were times when neither my husband nor I could understand what was being said to us: whether it was the vernacular or the accent, we were confused. Despite any miscommunications, we felt like we came away from Bothwell with many friends, and we both hope we will meet up with them again.

Bothwell is a gem of a Highland town:
church bothwell

Many of the buildings are sandstone:
bothwell sandstone church

You can tell that the local economy is agriculturally based:
bothwell elders sign

And yet it is clearly grounded in the 21st century:
elm bothwell

This is the cafe, serving sun-dried tomato panini with lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, and WiFi connectivity.

The week after the SpinIn, there were workshops. Di McPherson did a workshop on mud cloth (Bogolanfini), and I did two workshops: one on Braids and Bands (kumihimo and cardweaving) followed by one on knotted pile.

Yes, I had fun, but it is more than that. The people in the classes became friends, well, I think they were already friends when I arrived. We all speak another common language, of fiber, and crafts in general: clay, woodworking, jewelry, glass. No matter what craft we practice, we understand each other.

I could not have felt more at home. We talked and wove, braided and chatted, had lunch every day in small groups or large, had tea in the afternoons, and, as we usually do in a workshop like this, we found common denominators, and strange and glowing differences. It was delightful.

It was also delightful weather: brisk, rainy and cold one day, windy and sunny the next. The only honest weatherman on the planet admitted that the winds could not be classified. They were neither westerly, northerly or uni-directional in any way: in the Highlands of Tasmania, even the winds can be confused.

But the air! is the cleanest air in the world. As it whips and whirls around, it is full of an energy and excitement, palpable, which translates to a population which is energetic itself, welcomes new ideas, reaches out and welcomes new people, and takes the time to set up this wonderful International SpinIn, and invite guests like Di, Nikone and me. I could not be more grateful.

Two people in the knotted pile workshop talked of weaving up a rug, perhaps in time for the *next* Bothwell SpinIn, in 2011. I challenged them to do so, and if they managed to finish their rugs, I would come back to see them on display at the next SpinIn, no matter what form the SpinIn might take: a similar full-on event, a smaller retreat held elsewhere, or a few people just gathering to spin in the park in Bothwell.

We left end of summer in Australia:
sunny botanic gardens sydney

And came home to this:
snow march 2009

What a difference time and distance can make!

The next SpinIn is a bit of time away yet, and the distance will always be there to overcome, but the time to wait and the distance to cross seem less significant now. I know where I am going, and some of the people I will see again.

Again. Funny that word. I never would have guessed this path twenty years ago. I so wonder what it will look like in another ten. Time, and distance, will tell.


Blogger Deanna said...

What a grand and lovely adventure!

1:35 PM  
Blogger Charleen said...

It's wonderful that you can travel half-way around the world and yet feel so at home! Sounds like you had fantastic experience.

7:23 PM  
Blogger judy said...

Home is where you find yourself. Sounds like a wonderful adventure. Did your husband enjoy it as much as you did, without the support of his chosen community?

3:26 PM  
Blogger Shell said...

What a very cool experience. I so love to meet spinners, the language of spinning is so universal.
What a wonderful time. Thank you for sharing the experience!

7:43 PM  
Blogger RecycleMicol said...

Amazing! One day I'll have such adventures.

Bravo to your courage to step out and trek into the wide, wide world and inspiring us all!


12:47 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Terrific - and best of all, you took us along with you!

11:47 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

What a wonderful trip and a great blog!
So glad I found you.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

You were obviously deeply rewarded for your bravery in venturing into the unknown!

5:45 PM  

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