Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lost ... and Found - #1

The never ending, it would seem, story of the unpacking continues and though there may be some light at the end of the tunnel there isn't much in the spare room which still contains 52 boxes of CDs, books and sundries.  I am assuming that things such as the cable for the printer is in one of them but until I can get the bookcases in place I can't even start to take exactoknife to tape.

Happily so far there has been very little damage in the shipment from Italy - only two broken bowls in an old dinner set - and the wine arrived intact!  Would that the same could be said for things that were in long term storage - there is rather large dent in the upholstery of an armchair and the satin-finished Watered Maple dining table top has a few more abrasions, scratches and nicks than when it left the house in Aylmer.  But one of the fears of any unpacking job - no matter the provenience of the packing - is that you may inadvertently leave something in the reams of packing paper and have it whisked off to the mangler at the warehouse.  I was sure just such a fate had befallen two of my favourite little creatures.

Two hummingbirds - carved in BC cedar by Haida artist Dorothy August - said to bring joy and healing.
 Back in 2002-3 I was working in Vancouver and that allowed me to spend some time with my friends Dan and Cameron.  In those days they were renovating a house in town but have since moved to a wonderful waterfront home on Galiano Island in the Gulf - some people have all the luck.  One rainy Saturday (hey its Vancouver okay???) we headed up to Horseshoe Bay and after a healthy vegetarian, organic lunch (hey its Vancouver okay????) we wandered into The Spirit Gallery to look at the Haida art and crafts.  I fell in love with two tiny hummingbirds (7cm x 10cm - 3" x 4") carved in BC cedar by Dorothy August.  Said to bring joy and healing to a home, they have always found a place on a wall in ours since then. 

In Rome they graced the wall of the hallway leading down to the bedrooms.  I had opened a box and everything from that hallway was there - two small drawings from San Miguel de Allende,  a decorative hanging from Sappa,  a searing political cartoon from Poland and an 18th century hand coloured print of Warsaw.  And only after the box had been collapsed and paper disposed off did I realize that of hummingbirds had I none. 

I looked through the discarded paper in nearby boxes  - in effect unwrapping everything again - but no luck!  There were 12 other boxes filled with wrapping paper but I just didn't have the time or strength to go through them all.   Several people - Cathy, Mark and Laurent - assured me that I would find them, that they had just been put in another box.  That the packers had perhaps overlooked them and then at the last minute put them where space allowed.  I wasn't buying that story - everything else from the hallway was in the one box so they must have been.  They were small and very light weight so I had missed them in the unpacking.  I reconciled myself to the fact that my two little hummingbirds had been lost.

Well I guess you should always listen to your friends.   A few days later as I was unpacking a box from the dining room (?) there they were.  Not to be too poetic or sentimental - my two tiny birds hadn't flown away at all - they were just waiting to be found, unwrapped and to be given a place in our new home.

I'm not sure when Haida artist Dorothy August carved these two - 12/8 is written on the back in pencil which could be December 8 or August 12 but no year is indicated.  She's originally from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island and her Haida heritage is Nuu-chah-nulth from the Ahusaht First Nation.  According to the brief biographical note I received from The Spirit Gallery as well as cedar carvings she is know for her intricate bead-work and the Cowichan sweaters she knits. 

The hummingbird has no prominence in the older iconography or legends of the Haida but has made more of an appearance in recent years.  Within the constantly evolving mythology of the West Coast its character has developed into a speedy messenger of joy, love and healing.  If it appears at a time of great sorrow, wings beating rapidly as it hovers in mid-air, spiritual healing is said to quickly follow.

I know their appearance amongst all that bloody wrapping paper gave me a sense of joy - and relief.  They are now hovering on the hallway wall in our - and their - new home.

17 agosto/august - Sant' Elia di Enna
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Debra She Who Seeks said...

I LOVE those hummingbirds! I've never seen them represented before in Haida art. Isn't it great that Haida art is alive, evolving and incorporating new symbols and imagery?

SubtleKnife said...

Hello darling! Just think of the whole unpacking process as one amazing journey of discovery.

Don't worry about things going missing, think of the things you'll find!

*grumble* like those sunglasses I'm yet to find after 2,5 years...


oh wow..those are beautiful..