Monday, June 27, 2011

Brigid's Reeds

Right about this time every year, I am just getting recovered from the school year, and starting to break into my summer routine. I am looking forward to a patch of days a little more relaxed, and a little less hectic, than when I am racing to and from Providence and keeping up with all that school and a large art room packed full of kids and supplies entails. I closed the door to that room on Friday night with a large sigh of relief, most things clean and put away, mostly organized for the Fall...and went immediately home to sleep for 12 hours.

This is typical.

The renewal started, quite magically,  this weekend.

Sunday morning found me and Steve out by the side of the highway cutting reeds from the drainage ditches where they flourish for all my summer Brigid Cross making.  Steve snapped these photos, and I just love them.  I am soaked in gorgeous green.

It was a perfect June morning, soft and cool. and, as we pulled away from the gathering spot, a big red-tail hawk swooped right in front of the car, delighting us with her power, offering a great show of her beautiful tail. It was like receiving a blessing. 
These reeds are actually called 'soft rushes' and are a smaller relative of bullrushes. They are an invasive species in southern Rhode Island. In a week or two, the highway grass cutter-types (in Ireland, the 'hedgers' would be out) will trim these reeds right down to nothing and I would have lost my chance to cut them with their dear little blossoms still intact.

 These particular plants get nice and fat in this sunny roadside location.

In Ireland, the rushes grow in all sorts of boggy areas nearly everywhere, are a bit stouter- and would have grown up and bloomed before now!  Traditionally they would be used for bedding, sometimes to thatch the old-style cottages, and of course for Brigid Crosses; the very first rushes up in the earliest stirring of Spring would be used to make them on Feb. 1. The only place I've seen soft rushes grow the same way is in some boggy spots out on Block Island.  Last March, out for a St. Patricks' Day ceili, Sorrel Devine and I cut some while on a morning walk on the west side of the island. The rushes were well grown, even that early in the Spring.

The little blossoms, usually trimmed away,  I include with my crosses, my own signature touch.  I'll be hosting a couple of walk-in classes in Brigid Cross making at the Catskills Irish Arts Week and at Goderich, Ontario's Celtic College this summer. You can find my Brigid Crosses at LauraTravisCarving on

soaking rushes in hot water to make Brigid Crosses

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