For several months now, I’ve been rising at dawn.
I have a routine. I set the kettle to boil then feed and let out the animals. I fix my tea and either write or stumble around in the twilight.
Lately, the mornings have been cool. If it’s clear, I’ll shoulder a sweater or a quilt and amble around outside enjoying the treat of how the fall air seems to hold its breath at twilight. Sometimes I just walk around the yard. Sometimes I root around for pecans.
I like trying to find pecans when it’s still mostly dark. At first, it’s not particularly productive. I squat down and pull in anything within reach—rocks, thick sticks, hardened bits of dog shit. After finding a few worthy pecans, my senses become keener. I can feel the difference even through the soles of my shoes. At first, I examine the pecans and keep only the good ones, the solid ones, the ones I can eat.
Then, feeling optimistic, I decide they’re all good ones. I collect half-emptied hulls. I collect hollowed out shells. I collect ones that are, remarkably, still green. I collect ones that the squirrels have tossed away. I let them weigh down my pockets. There are still so many. I return day after day.
I’ve been researching how to use the old pecan hulls and the hollowed-out shells for dye. Maybe, in this year moving forward, I will begin to gather my fabric the hard way, dying bits of cloth or shredding old clothes for new quilts that are heavy with stories, stitched together by hands stained, still dirty.
Here are a few lovely poems that have to do with this kind of thing: