Valentine’s Day has come and gone, with all its poignant sweetness, passionate romance, and for some, aching hearts seeking a way to mend. For all those with broken and healing hearts, Sandra has woven a willow basket so embracing and big that  it can cradle every beautiful heart in this world. When it rains, the basket will shelter your heart from storm. Within a great interlacing circle lies a breathable anchorage.

Sandra wove this giant basket big enough to curl up within for a practical purpose. Imbued with the earthy reds, golds and greens of the willows growing on the Escalante River, this basket covers an adobe earth oven in the making. The oven made of the local muds will bake bread and pizza. When the oven is not in use, the basket covers the source of sustenance. To cover, to shelter, to hold, and to nest are some of the qualities of the ancient form of the basket, the one the birds taught people how to create.

Sandra weaves willows to form a woven structure that will fit within the basket to keep an interior tarp in place. The tarp will be hidden under the basket, yet will add waterproofing to keep the unfinished adobe oven protected and dry.

I walk with Sandra to help her cut willows for the interior woven structure that will hold a tarp to better protect the oven beneath. With care, she chooses willows by the river’s edge  Where there are two tall stems growing together, she snips one. She moves through the willows by the stream with a practiced eye, sizing up the stems that would best serve the purpose, and always cutting one here and one there, knowing that her actions encourage more willow growth in the process. She is partaking in nature, not taking from nature.

Back on the patio above the river, she weaves the supple willows of spring into place. Her hands move with the skill of weavers over the centuries, including here in the southern Utah canyons where the Puebloan peoples carried seeds and even water in baskets of beauty and utility.

Sandra weaving willows on a late February afternoon by the Escalante River.


As I watch, I realize that the act of weaving is a way of lacing our beings with each other, with this earth, and with all its wild denizens. We live in a time when baskets fray, break and spill. We live in a time, too, when people are stepping up to re-weave, re-create, and to dream big, like this basket is big.

By joining in the weaving and into the miraculous circular world we inhabit, we can hear the heartbeat of the earth. Each one of us goes about our days with our hearts beating in our chests. Our bodies are our baskets, holding and harboring the sanctity of our souls. Yet, there are times when our hearts can feel exposed and raw. In those times,  think of woven willows that can support and cradle, or cover and shield. The openness of a basket never suffocates, it merely holds us up so we can lift up and fly from its rim and return.

Sandra with basket/oven