April…Fiddlehead season. Yes, marshes and woods are coming alive. Fiddleheads are responding to the light and warm temperatures. It’s the anticipation of seeing green again, and the delight as our Earth becomes carpeted everywhere in lush green.
I’ve been tending a stream for a dozen years. It’s a reciprocal relationship. I put in 8 – 10 hours every year, generally in late April, early May. I have six small waterfalls along a 100 foot run. My biggest drop for a waterfall is about a foot.
A neighbor who borders another stream in our neighborhood told me about “tuning” a stream. Because her stream has a serious flow, she explained that at every bend in the river, every drop in height, each boulder and rock is an opportunity for tuning. She took me to her bridge and said, “Listen. A stream never makes the same sound twice, it’s always changing.” She said, “Listen deeper. You can hear the water flowing over and around that rock. Listen. Does it repeat? No, not at all. There are subtleties to the sound. Listen. Do you hear the differences?”
I did hear the differences. She said, “If I move the rock the sound will change, but each rock has its own melody. She didn’t move any rocks as we talked. We remained on the bridge.
She continued, “Now follow with the eye up the stream. You can hear the melody being played off of each rock. They all blend into a symphony of sound.”
“So you tune the stream?” I asked.
She said, “Above the bridge, no. I leave it to nature.” We crossed the road. “Below the bridge, I’m messing with the rocks from time to time. Downstream is easier to get to so I move rocks around.”
I said, “Your stream has a beautiful sound.”
“Thank you,” she said.
Back to my stream. I have fiddlehead ferns and cattails, hundreds of them. Her stream has a few ferns and no cattails. Her water moves too fast. Her stream has ten times the volume of water running through it. Mine is a gentler flowing stream. I’ve created waterfalls. I have six waterfalls that back up the water and allow it to spill over. I do tuning too, but it’s different, I’m doing waterfall stream tuning.
In the March – April – May time period I log ten or twelve hours of sitting time down by my stream next to my biggest waterfall. I have a comfy woven cord chair, a big feldspar boulder for a footstool, and can be seen from the road with my feet up on the rock, my hands behind my head, watching redwing blackbirds flitting on cattails and frogs jumping. I like the sound of running water the waterfalls play as the stream sweeps by. I have a variety of ferns lining the stream and one type of Cattail.
Full circle hand engraving
Kathryn makes our Fiddlehead and fern bracelet. It’s 1/2-inch wide and filled top to bottom with ferns and fiddleheads. Kathryn hand engraves each piece. It’s deep engraving, sculptural engraving, deep enough for the recessed areas to catch the natural antiquing raising the pattern for dramatic contrast. I feel the stream, I see the ferns at its edges. I’m going to say, and this is dangerous, I don’t know how in time and precious metal she can afford to do this at such a good price. Her answer every time I’ve asked is, “I just love to hand engrave. I’m good, I’m fast, and I would do it all day for free if I could.”
I have fiddlehead ferns in my freshwater marsh that in four weeks have grown to four-feet high. In four more weeks they will be six-feet high. Fiddleheads and ferns are pure magic. When we find homes for these twelve bracelets, probably this week, we will ask Katherine to make more.
Masterfully done. All engraved by hand in America. There used to be thousands of hand engravers in America. Today, only a few dozen, and I know of only one who says if someone just paid her expenses, she would happily do hand engraving all day.
Look at the detail in the bracelet. You can see love written across the surface, gently curved, gently domed. The clasp, which is like two intertwined fiddleheads and slips into place from side to side is ingenious. If Katherine stopped, if Katherine retired, I know of no one in the world we could go to to have this bracelet made. If you like this bracelet don’t wait.
Just like a Fiddlehead fern, our bracelet has a furled end that curls into the opposite end creating a “Fiddlehead” clasp. It is easy to open and close and is a unique detail.
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