On the June bank holiday, after a couple of days in delirium I was admitted to the Mercy hospital with cellulitis from nettle stings and pond water, my lower leg was twice it’s normal girth, I could barely see my toes. Working with nettle fibres was a way of getting the connection back after this hiatus.
Nettles and Time
I have begun again with the task of extracting the fibres from the nettle.
Rumplestiltskin comes to mind…(whispers) …say my name…
First one softens the stalk, pounding gently with stone or other blunt object
Then one splits open the stalk
The nettle yields and separates into a few long strands, often four sections
Pull a strand away
Next one extracts the pith, the woody hull from inside, nettle-flesh, spongiform
You bend back the bark and crack the pith then you can remove it in inch long segments, the pithy bits, discarded in the making of cordage
Then you have long strips of green bark, the bark is fibrous but tough, harsh to the touch
On the inside of the bark are the fine nettle fibres, they are white or palest of green
Best to dry the fibres now to allow for shrinkage, a couple of hours will do
Then soak, for a while, short or long, if longer than a day change water every once in a while (we are not making soup)
I am not sure what comes out in the water – it is strong stuff, and ….
I find, venomous,
like a bee sting or that of an ant.
The formic acid in nettles becomes an ally in textiles, neutralising pH, and being both antibacterial and preserving, so best not to over-soak
Soaking swells up the inner fibres, it renders them easier to see, and easier to pull away from the bark, still, it’s a long process
I am outdoors in the late summer sun and so I lay the fibres out on the bare skin of my thigh, they stick to the skin, nettle juice holding them in place in the breeze till they dry and want to fly away
A rhythm builds this way.
Some fibres still have bark attached, the good ones are fine as grandmother’s hair
I twist the fibres
I twist them again
This Stops Time
The rate of production is too slow to be significant on any grand scale
twist and twist again
I will not be adding much to the things of the world in this way
Time expands internally, takes on another dimension
Stills the world outside
I am in touch
The ancestors are around
How else would the girl in the story have conjured the name of that taskmaster goblin
(whispers) say my name again…..
from my blog Narratives with Nature on Glen2Creek
Nettles and time Wednesday 25.08.2021