Honeysuckle Dreams

(honeysuckle, honeysuckle roots)

Sweeping Changes

I am doing another entry right away, since it was a long break, and I’d like to get all the work done.
This might be my favorite broom.  It is wild and sweet, and reminds me of her.  When I look at it, I see her dancing.  She used to love to dance, and even when she was in her chair, she would twirl and glide with music sometimes.  I still get at least a tear in my eye when I hear the Avett Brothers song, Swept Away:

Well you send my life a whirling
Darling when you’re twirling
On the floor
Who cares about tomorrow?
What more is tomorrow?
Than another day.

I am also going to use Rae’s own words for this one, again from Master Sweepings:

Southern women, tough strong, stubborn.  Mothers, grandmothers, not genteel, but wild, bodacious – dancing thru life – not ramrod straight, but laughing, courageous women who know how to bend.  Spinning, rocking, vining, rooting.

Each of the brooms could almost be considered a love letter to women, but this one is specifically to my grandmothers, who are the ones that taught me to love being a woman.  My grandmothers danced through many dramatic, sad or normal times, and each of them has given me an alternative picture of what older women are.  Wise, strong and outrageous in their own right, they worked hard, laughed, and argued with each other.  They taught me resilience.  The honeysuckle is resilient: cut it back or dig it up, and it comes back.  The honeysuckle is considered a flower by some, an invader by others, little better than a weed.  Like the honeysuckle, my grandmothers cared little for outsiders’ opinions, but grew in their own manner with their own belief system intact.
Poor women, with little education, they were anything but invisible or worthless.  Many old women live alone, cut off from affection, sexuality and life, but not these women.   Each of my grandmothers carried her own name  proudly.  They were short little women who were majestic in their stature, righteous in their anger, humorous and stubborn.  Never would these women sit meekly by and allow someone to dictate their lives, nor did they encourage their granddaughters to.  This broom is a message of reclaiming in that I want each of us to dance into our own power and catch/make our own dream.  This is the clearest message, maybe the only clear message, other than the importance of tenacity, that my grandmothers gave me.    The broom was also an acknowledgement of the skills and love of making that I got from them.  Each of my foremothers is an artist in her own right.  My great great grandma MacDowell was a weaver and a quilter, who lived to be 99, and held my oldest son in her arms.  Great grandma Nancy made quilts, hooked rugs and dolls, and raised literally millions of birds in her house and barn to sell to pet shops and bird houses.  She lived with a man for almost 30 years, and laughed about their great sex until he died when she was 74.  Grandma Dora was a seamstress and baker and the quietest of the lot, but she married her second husband at 72.  All of their art would have been considered craft  they define it as such themselves  but it is not just domestic objects that they made, used, gave away, traded and sold  it was something from the heart, made with attention and intention.  This was their gift to me.
The broomstick is made of the heavy branch of honeysuckle, cut in half and fitted back into itself so that the shape emulated an elegant classical “S” curve so often associated with women and their posture.  Grace and posture is a presumption all rural southern border state women must deal with.  My grandmothers did often tell me to stand up straight  but there was such grace, comfort and strength in their own easy posture it was easier to emulate.   I used honeysuckle because it has a relationship to the south.  I think it is the word itself that I respond to.  “Honeysuckle” rolls off the tongue, and has a sensuous sound.  We had Honeysuckle Queens and honeysuckle parades and festivals that had nothing to do with the plant.   The flying skirt of the broom is made of roots to give credence to my belief in the importance of roots as a nurturer of the strength to build the self.

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