“I’m a weaver. I take the different threads of things and pull them together.”
That’s how Susan Fowler describes her storytelling, and it’s a great way to describe the Garden Feast that Patchwork held yesterday to celebrate our Summer Arts & Smarts Program. An entire energetic summer of fun came together in a frenetic swirl of art, food, music, dance, and bicycles. Woven through the evening were themes of love, family, community, and dreams. It was full of wonderful, creative children and caring, supportive adults.
The evening was a wonderful finale for our final Art Garden Week and for the summer in general. Earlier in the week, Susan told our Art Garden participants stories about the three sisters in the garden (corn, beans, and squash) who grow stronger by growing together (corn supports, beans nourishes the earth, and squash protects the earth). Susan told us about the farmer at a local fair who whittled a point on her pencil to sharpen it and who gave her some of his popcorn. Susan told about Mary Pickersgill, the grandmother who helped create an enormous 30’ x 42’ flag for Fort McHenry in Baltimore—the one that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner. Susan told us about the big dreams and ambitions that led to landing the first men on the moon 50 years ago next week. Susan told us dreams don’t have to be that ambitions to be big—like Emma Gatewood’s dream to be the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail solo and in one season.
In Susan’s storytelling she wove everything together and everyone became part of the story. Suddenly we had beans, corn, and squash who transformed into astronauts, and there was a woman with a walking stick hiking among the astronauts, and the Eagle was landing on the moon and water splashed as we all returned to Earth, and there was a 10’ x 42’ portion of Mary Pickersgill’s flag with its red and white stripes waving through the middle of the room.
From Susan’s stories, the entire Art Garden week wove together. Groups worked in the garden with Andrea to tend our own three sisters—corn, peas, and sweet potatoes. All had been planted in June during the first Art Garden Week, and now the corn was taller than the children. They also picked blackberries (always a favorite) and rattail radishes and planted more plants for the butterflies to enjoy. Since it was so hot, they also got to play in the sprinkler.
In the art studio with Jean, everyone glazed the garden markers and bowls that they’d created earlier in the summer. While those items were fired in the kiln, the group returned to the idea of the three sisters and everyone learned to braid friendship bracelets using three strands of yarn.
Meanwhile in the kitchen with Rita and Gail, the group added berries and radishes from the garden to a variety of other fresh ingredients to make salads and smoothies along with tasty cheese straws. In continuing the tradition from Art Garden Week 1, all of our food got fancy restaurant names like: “Eleven Lucky Lunch Leprechauns,” “Strawberry Strawblue-nanza,” and fanciest of all, “Chezful Cheztastic Cheesestraw Surprise with Turtles (No turtles were harmed in the making of this snack).”
It was a wonderfully Patchwork week and a wonderfully Patchwork summer. Thank you to everyone who was part of it in some way!