When I was in Girl Guides, we had a winter camp every February at Mira Pines. This wasn’t tent camping — although I will cheerfully camp in rainstorms in October, sleeping in a tent in the winter is a bit much for me. Maybe I’ll try it someday, but I certainly wasn’t about to when I was eleven.
Although we slept in the lodge at night (in sleeping bags on the floor — the cabins had beds, but they didn’t have heat), we spent most of the days outdoors. We snowshoed to German Point, a place where in the summers at church camp, I went swimming. In the summer it was a nice(ish) beach, but in the winter it was about the journey, not the destination, since when you got there, well, there was the river, and everything was covered in snow, nothing to see, so you might as well just turn around and head right back.
We slid down big hills on our Krazy Karpets, and we went skating. There was a hollow that at summer camp we called the “fire pit,” because that was where we went for our campfires. In the winter, though, the basin filled up and froze over until it was exactly like an icy pond.
In the evenings, when it was even colder and dark, we mostly stayed in the lodge. We made the same supper the first night of camp all three years I was there: tacos, blueberry muffins, and fruit salad. There were also blueberries in the fruit salad, and they turned the rest of it — the other fruits, the marshmallows, the yogurt — a completely disgusting shade of purple. It looked absolutely vile, but it tasted like fruit salad. It was very comforting to be mixing muffin batter and know that soon you’d be grating cheddar for the tacos, just like you’d done the year before, and the year before that.
After supper, we did various Girl Guide-y things. One that I remember was performing a bizarre skit about the lives of Robert and Olave Baden-Powell. Singing, of course. Doing crafts. One year we sewed red heart-shaped pillows with lace around the edges, as it was near Valentine’s Day. They turned out really well, but when I tried making one at home, it was all squashed and lumpy and strange. Apparently I sucked at sewing pillows when I was doing it without help.
And every year, we made God’s eyes.
According to Wikipedia, “The Ojo de Dios or Eye of God is a ritual tool, magical object and cultural symbol evoking the weaving motif and its spiritual associations. For the Huichol peoples of northwestern Mexico, The God’s Eye is symbolic of the power of seeing and understanding that which is unknown and unknowable, The Mystery. The four points represent the elemental processes earth, fire, air, and water.”
We made simple, little kid-type God’s eyes out of yarn and Popsicle sticks. I liked using variegated yarn the best and watching the striping patterns emerge. It was meditative and soothing, winding string around sticks, and for a while after camp, I would go into a God’s eye-making frenzy and make them at home, too. I actually liked the way they looked from the back better than the front.
I know these have yarn coming loose, but that’s just because they’re some of my original God’s eyes from Girl Guide camp, so they’re all at least fifteen years old. I swear they weren’t always this messy.
The problem, though, was that I never knew what to do with all these God’s eyes once I’d made them. I loved the process, but wasn’t too crazy about the product. Neither were the parents/grandparents/piano teachers/etc. whom I foisted my Popsicle stick and Red Heart petroleum product creations upon. I didn’t even think they were pretty enough to want to decorate anything with them. (I’m not knocking more complicated God’s eyes, or ones made with better materials, only my own kiddie creations.) I wished I could find a way of translating my obsession with wrapping yarn around sticks to create something that had an actual function, maybe even something beautiful.
Luckily, now I have.