Cordage and a Worthwhile Hand Cramp

banana stalk fiber cordage

My first two banana “leaf” cordage

I did get a hand cramp.  But, it was worth it.

Let me back up a bit.

Working with my hands has always been healing.  And, recently, I had the chance to learn something new…something I had been wanting to learn…basic cordage making.

My first imprint of the process was at a Chumash Cultural Day at the local Natural History Museum in Santa Barbara.  The Chumash are the First Peoples of this area.

At one booth, I saw a few heads bowed over bins of water with rushes soaking.  I watched for some time.  I was then offered some material to try myself.

I think it had been soaking for too long?  Or, maybe my hands were not attuned to the process…you know…muscle memory means a lot with these things…  But, my twisting would not hold.

The amazing thing with this rush/reed/grass twisting is that the twist stays in place even when released.  It’s a double twist method that locks the material in place.

So simple.  So amazing.

That week I found myself at Fairview Farm which I frequent with my little one on a weekly basis.  A friend of mine who works with the local Forest Kindergarten was actually making cordage with this double twist method (I need to learn the proper term for this!).

She was actually using the fiber/material from the “trunk” of the banana tree.

I walked over and pulled a piece off and showed her, “is this what you used?”

She nodded, “yes.”

And, I jumped in, once again.  This time the material held.  It was a very satisfying experience.  Later, I told my friend that I needed to sign up for her Forest Kindergarten class (smile)…

Really though, if everyone in our culture started there with our schooling, we’d be in a much better place as a culture.  And, ideally nature-based learning wouldn’t stop as soon as a child is elementary school aged.

thicker banana stalk cordage

Two larger ropes of cordage made from banana “leaf”

So…back to cordage…what I need to learn now is how to integrate other material well so that I can keep going and make the cordage longer.  It can be used for rope or to weave just about anything.  My friend wants to weave a simple bag.

On a similar note, I have to say how rewarding it is to work with my hands while watching my daughter play and romp around the farm.  I sense that this is what village life must have been like.

She is playing, but always watching me in some way or another…seeing what I am doing…seeing that my hands are always creating…seeing that I am contributing to the village.  As well, I am watching her play and explore…experiment with her surroundings…nibble on things growing nearby…  It is a reciprocal dance of learning, watching, exploring, playing, and providing…

A humble glimpse…but my primal sensibilities feel that it is all too familiar…and strangely fulfilling…

So yes, I did get a hand cramp from all that twisting.  But, it was worth it.

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