Teeming with birds

We took a walk last night an hour before sunset. Our longest day here at 45 degrees north latitude gives us roughly 15 – 1/2 hours of daylight. A glance skyward revealed this lovely sight:

grackles and the moon

One of the babies perched below among the willow branches …

baby grackle

On the home stretch I found this exquisitely woven American Goldfinch nest at the foot of a small tree. It must have blown down in a light breeze as it is perfectly intact, with no evidence of eggs. It takes Goldfinches six days to build a nest. Their nests are often lined with the fluff from the seedheads they eat.

Birch bark dye results, Rabbits revealed

My birch bark dye experiment didn’t result in pink. I got a rather pale, warm, gold-ish parchment color. (Birchment?) I like it. I’m sure there are so many variables with plant dyeing, not the least of which is my inexperience dyeing with raw plants. The age of the tree (old in this case), soil, mordants, dirt, temperature of the water, time, etc. The silk organza at the top of the photo took on the most color. The linen on the right took on the least. These will ultimately be over-dyed.

silks and linen dyed with birch bark

I washed the paste out of my rabbit design yesterday . Here’s a peek.

Rabbits, Moons, Greens © Kit Eastman

Loon tremelo, bark brew

This morning during breakfast I was startled by the tremolo call of a common loon as it flew over our house. This is a first — even though we do spot a loon or two on Lake Como each spring, no doubt in transit to the North Woods. It’s one of my favorite sounds and makes me long for quiet coniferous forests and tranquil lakes.
The humid, cool and rainy weather pattern has been lingering over our area for almost a week. The garden is lush and you can almost see it grow.

squash blossom

Jenny Dean’s blog post on useful garden trees for dyeing has spurred me on to try cooking my birch bark, which has been soaking for almost a month. This morning I gently simmered the bark for about an hour. The smell was not pleasant at first, but after awhile it had a vague scent of cinnamon — perhaps the tannin? After straining the liquid off I will will see what happens with some well-used linen and a couple of pieces of silk. (I used alum as a pre-mordant.)

birch bark brew

I am hoping for some pinks.