"Place" and "Place Making" are receiving renewed prominence these days as environmental disasters are hitting our homes with increasing frequency. Not only are we coming to understand the impact of our activities on the earth (both helpful and harmful), but we are also recognizing how our connection to place nurtures our sense of who we are as both individuals, families and communities.
For Shirley, one Southern Journeys artisan from rural Alabama, the seasonal memory of going out to find a Christmas tree, tasked to the girls of the household, is symbolic of her relationship to her childhood surroundings and to being together outside. During the month of December she would anticipate the annual cold trek with her sisters. While she hoped they would find something suitable and cut it down quickly while the air was still warm, she was also excited by the uncertainty of what lay ahead. She looked forward to escaping the usual chores, the embrace of tall trees illuminated by dazzling sunbeams and the challenge of fulfilling the duty as charged.
Dorothea, another Southern Journeys artisan, describes her foray into the Georgia woods as follows:
"Growing up with my parents and 16 siblings, me being the 9th child, the middle man (lol), going in the woods to get a medium size pine tree was a family event. My dad would chop it down. My siblings and I waited for the moment to drag that tree home together. My dad made that ole homemade stand for our tree. Sometimes we used a cane syrup can filled with sand to support the tree (which it didn't always work but seems like we were always there to catch it when it started to lean). We loved helping my mom decorate it. Sometimes we used hand me down decorations. Christmas Eve everybody was so excited; wanting to stay awake to see SANTA come down the chimney. Not sure if it was milk or water we left, and a slice of cake, but it was gone one when we woke up. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."