Crane Woman is the result of living on the tundra in Western Alaska, where we listened to the returning of cranes in the spring. Their voices reminded me of the sound of old women talking, and, over the years, a story slowly emerged of an old woman who had gone away from the village during a time of starvation. She takes with her a bundle of tule grass to weave until she falls asleep. As she begins to weave, Crane approaches her and asks for help. Winter is coming early and the young cranes are not strong enough to make their journey south. The next morning the old woman takes her grass to the river and talks to Crane about the coming spring, and as the young cranes listen she slowly weaves them into a basket to keep them safe with her in the hut through the winter. All winter she sings to them and in the spring, when Crane returns with her flock, the basket is unwoven and the young cranes fly free.
On Instagram yesterday I stumbled on my painting of Crane Woman. The art was posted by Laura Medha with reference to the work of 'The Thirteen Original Clan Mothers,' and their guidance to help us as we interact with everything that composes our world. The post was a brief period of feeling grounded for me...a feeling hard to come by lately. It renewed my fondness for the painting but also made me realize that many things in our lives come together at different points in our lives. I had just finished reading BRAIDING SWEETGRASS by Robin Wall Kimmerar. It was the book I read myself to sleep with at the end of tense political and covid days. Her book grounded me in the same way. The book grounded me each night, reconnecting me to the larger, more supportive world of nature. Robin's writing renewed my sense of belonging to a world that connects itself in a healthier, more nurturing way than the human world often does. But that world and its stories needs our stewardship. As Crane Woman sits weaving, I ask that she use the wisdom of elders to create a basket of protection for all of nature, to weave the strong but humble tule grass tightly around all of us, to let us see ourselves tied to the circular pattern of nature.
If you would like to read earlier installments of Painting The Sky, you can find them here.