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The Circle of Life

Carol Johnson Collins

South Duxbury, Vermont USA

Artwork: The Circle of Life

Photography: Paul Forlenza

As a small child growing up on our family's farm in West Brattleboro, Vermont, I remember the 100-year old sugar maple trees, which were neatly planted with an even space between each one. They formed a regal border to our humble, dandelion-filled lawn. I loved swinging from a swing hung from one of the lower branches of the maple in the corner by the sandbox where my brothers and I spent many happy hours. I loved making maple syrup from their sap with my Dad and brothers.

Always I have loved and respected trees, so when I received an invitation to join with others to express this love and help to honor connections with humankind, I wanted to participate.

As a child I worked with the wool from our sheep. I went on to become a spinner in 1973. For 30 years I have been spinning wool into yarn and teaching hundreds of students of all ages. I wanted to use my expertise as a spinner to express my love for trees. I chose a fleece from a woman shepherd in Underhill, Vermont who wanted to raise her children in the country with animals.

I washed the fleece, picked it to remove the hay and wood shavings, and then carded it. Then I chose to spin it in the darkness while I watched a slide show.

My husband, Fred Collins, bent the 1/4 inch steel round stock into shape and a friend welded it together. I wrapped the circle with the washed, carded wool and used the hand-spun yarn for the tree branches by making hundreds of knots. I plied some of the yarns for the roots and wrapped more of the carded wool around the tree trunk.

Trees connect us to the circle of life.

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