Welcome to Squaw Valley, California. Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains below Kings Canyon National Park I have found a basket weavers paradise. Sumac or sour berry, willow, redbud, soaproot grow plentiful here in these valleys. The wet winter months are perfect for harvesting in late December into January if the weather cooperates.
I have been fortunate to be able to relocate from hot sunny San Diego County to these beautiful foothills. Everything has its season here and the seasons move fast. After only 1 year I realize the window for harvest on each type of plant can be only a matter of days. The sumac harvested and worked Dec 21st was much more pliable, green and easier to split than those sticks picked Jan 15th. The wood is already whiter and starting to harden from the inside.
Working the sumac into threads is a time consuming process and helps the long winter days to pass quickly. The slower lifestyle here allows me more time to do the things I love such as organic gardening but the chores also cut into my weaving time. It is hard to set aside a new basket to go muck out the goat barn in the rain but work has to be done, it isn’t going to do itself.