i have a few regrets in life. one of them is that i didn't learn everything i could from my mom before she died. i didn't ask her enough questions about her life, and now, because of that, i couldn't write her autobiography. i didn't write enough down, didn't listen closely enough, and now my memory doesn't serve to conjure all those precious things she taught me. she was a master of scrimshaw, among other things, and these days, i regret not having her teach me how...because these are the things you can't learn in books. these are the legacies lost. it's hard, grasping at an idea, a memory, thin as the morning fog.... mom sitting at her roll-top wooden desk, me just one year old, her small brown specs, the bright light shining down on her hands, everything much bigger through the magnifier, scratching away at those little pieces of tusk, rubbing the ink in, buffing it out, again and again until a beautiful image was born. i might be able to do it, i just might, i might some day try, but i want to ask her how, i want her to hold my hand. i want all those chances back. but life doesn't always give you second chances.
i was lucky. mom surrounded herself and me with powerfully creative women who taught me everything i could ever need to know about the powerful tools of craft. through these women, i learned to sew, cook, and make. these women, now in their eighties and nineties, outlived my mom, so fortunately, i can still call them for advice. and that is why, after mom was gone, i asked norma to teach me basketry again. the first time, i was too young and distractible to care. i never even finished my first project. but this time, i watched, and learned... to make a true cedar spirit pouch, from a woman who learned from a legacy of northwest native weavers.... on her patio, drinking tea, she soaked the cedar, then peeling it delicately into uniform strips.. i watched her wrinkled fingers weave and twine deftly as she talked, as she reminisced and cried, cried for the loss of the ones she loved.