Each issue includes a group of short pieces (250-500 words) on a theme. The theme for the summer issue's Short Takes was "Arts and Crafts." I am grateful to editor Sue Leonard for including my take on the topic.
by Dorothy Rice
As distinguished from crafts, those myriad Girl Scout and grammar school projects – lanyards, felt ladybug pincushions, lace doily hearts pasted on red construction paper, art with a capital “A” is found in museums and galleries. As a teenager I adorned my jeans with embroidery and ribbons sewn on the hems. I carted dusty misshapen lumps with wicks home from the beach, sand candles with unstable bottoms whose rivers of muddy purple and red wax marred the top of my dresser.
My daughters and I, on a spa vacation the week between Christmas and New Year’s, search for things to do together. What can we all enjoy – three women, 17, 26 and 62? We sign up for the craft offerings.
In the art studio we sift through mounds of colored beads, filling paper plates with our choices in glass, plastic, metal and ceramic. Patterns emerge – shades of blue, of black, white and silver, earth tones for me.
We don’t speak of my older daughter’s heartbreak, how her partner of five years left while she was at work. I don’t ask my younger daughter what colleges she applied to or about her last test scores. Yet these are the reasons we are here.
We sit across from one another at a rickety card table. We trade beads, offering them up like hors d’oeuvres. We string them on stretchy cords to make bracelets, which we will wear all week, rattling our wrists at one another.
Between exercise classes, meals, and spa treatments, we shape lumps of clay and affix yarn to boards sticky with beeswax.
Our last afternoon, we fashion prayer wands. We write our intentions for the New Year on slips of paper to be wrapped around sticks, then covered in yarn. We select feathers, charms, and herbs to dangle from the end.
“Some guests plant their sticks on the trail for a stranger to find,” says the man who guides us. “Or you can take yours home. The process is what matters and your intention.”
We sip hot cocoa with cinnamon and nibble sweet tamales. We share balls of yarn and advice – how to switch colors, how to attach the crackly spray of pungent herbs.
I ask my younger daughter what she wrote.
“That’s private,” she says.
“Yeah, Mom,” says the other, taking her sister’s side.
But her eyes are soft as she passes me the scissors. I flew across the country when her girlfriend left – when my daughter, who so rarely asks for anything, let me help her move.
At week’s end we pack. My older daughter lays her prayer wand on the coffee table. It won’t fit in her luggage. Now it sits in my office, alongside mine. I don’t remember what I wrote on that slip of paper, hidden beneath rings of blue, green and gold yarn.
Yet I know my intentions, for my daughters and for myself.