Weaving A Life

May Day conjures up images of maypoles and children frolicking among sweet new spring flowers. Last week, I came upon the following scene at the American Botanical Council’s annual Herb Day.


I snapped this shot after the interweaving dance had progressed quite far, and the adults were having to bend down to weave under each other’s ribbons. Even clad in modern clothes, the image of this intergenerational group carrying out this ritual struck a timeless chord in me. I loved watching the two circles of people moving in opposite directions, passing each other over and over again, creating such a physical symbol of community connectedness. A mother carried her infant child, a couple of toddlers spun around the pole, one modest 13-year-old carefully tread her path, plus a few grandparents laughingly wove their way.

Meanwhile, in the background the good folks of the American Botanical Council (ABC) were selling small starts of local herbs for people to take home and plant. We were surrounded by their prolific and lovely teaching herb garden. I was fascinated to discover earlier this year that this national group is based right here in Austin. An independent nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to providing accurate and reliable information about medicinal plants, they produce a wonderful quarterly peer-reviewed perodical called HerbalGram with educational articles on herbs, including many Ayurvedic ones. ABC was a perfect setting to celebrate May and the gifts of the garden.

At the end of the maypole dance, what I had not anticipated was the final result – a beautiful basket-weave of ribbons covering the entire pole, a perfect testament to the beauty of our intricately overlapping lives.

I hope your spring is full of dancing and unexpected beauty!


11 thoughts on “Weaving A Life

  1. pamingram says:

    oh virginia- your observation so speaks to me….i remember when my own ‘new beginning’ was equally unraveling, a tear in the fabric, so to speak, and how the ‘new beginning’ – new life -that i was weaving ( like that lonely spider whose web is constantly torn asunder by weather and other invasions) would be pulled and snagged, but yet somehow i would add a thread and then a friend- old or new- would engage and add another thread and collectively, jointly a whole new weave was constructed and how much better that new weaving was- how resilient and beautiful. you and your beautiful daughter have expressed this so beautifully- ” how can we tell the dancer from the dance?”…psi

  2. Virginia Ellenberg. says:

    of late my life has been disrupted and i have moved to a new house. on better days i refer to all this activity as a “new beginning”, on less good days i’m just exhausted and lonesome! the image (which i was unable to download?) was a stunning word-picture reminder for me. everyday in little ways i am a part of a maypole weacing,each little thread of effort to create community counts! thanks for the imagery and the shared dance, ivy.

    • Ivy Ingram says:

      Ah so true – each thread counts, so aptly put. I have certainly felt that exhaustion and loneliness. Perhaps the image can remind us that even then, we are connected – even then, we are part of a bigger community that is, in fact, holding us. We just need to get out IN it to feel the fabric of the larger whole. Sending you oh so much love….

  3. pamingram says:

    ivy, love the weaving metaphor…always- have two sisters who are weavers and this is a wonderful powerful concept…but what really pulls me is the references to the Botanical Council. Have registered for the newsletter and thank you for the link…love you, psi

    • Ivy Ingram says:

      Oh great! So glad to share it with you. Next time you visit Austin, we’ll have to get you over there to check it out, although a wealth of their offerings are indeed online and in print…. xo

  4. Gayle Engels says:

    Ivy, thank you for your lovely piece on the American Botanical Council, its HerbDay event, and our first ever maypole. We have our fabulous gardener, Toby, to thank for this wonderful idea. We are grateful every day to have his energy in our organization. He, along with our education coordinator, Becky Andrews, our pharmacy and dietetic interns, and staff worked extremely hard to get the gardens in shape for this event. With a few more blog posts like yours, ABC may not remain Austin’s best kept secret for long. Green blessings! Gayle Engels, American Botanical Council Special Projects Director

    • Ivy Ingram says:

      Gayle, you have such a special place, with beautiful gardens and beautiful energy abounding. I have had the pleasure of many visits this spring during Nicole Telkes’ herbalism classes held on your grounds. I look forwad to seeing ABC continue to thrive in the years ahead!

  5. Toby Bernal says:

    Thank you so much for this great story! When I was asked to prepair an activity for the kids, I had no Idea that big kids would want to play as well… Im so glad that you had a great time in our Gardens! Toby Bernal Master Gardener for ABC

    • Ivy Ingram says:

      You know, I would have loved to participate myself! At least I got a photo. Thanks so much for creating the event, and for your beautiful gardens! They are a joy to behold. I hope to meet you in person some day. Peace and gratitude to you, Toby….

  6. Sally says:

    Such beautiful imagery, Ivy. Robin Hickey tells a lovely “braid story” about relationships and the strength and beauty and complexity we enjoy when we weave those single strands together. Sweet memories of braiding your hair when you were just a girl.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s