Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tomatoes and Vikings??

What happens when summer finally arrives in the Pacific Northwest?

My husband renamed the month of June this year to Junuary because there was so much cold and rain with very few sunny days.  I planted my small garden too early in the month of May and it is still suffering from the too early syndrome as there wasn’t enough sun in June. 

Mary B’s leggy tomato plants in the middle of July!

The TAG-5 is simply a group of women who’ve experienced      L I F E lately―children graduating from college or coming home for the summer from college; children moving to another state with the first grandchild in tow; elderly parents who are infirm and needing to downsize and move; and the passing of a parent to name a few of the personal things.

Then there are the other L I F E things: vacations and planning vacations, TAG-5 field trips, gardening, landscaping, reading, upholstering furniture, sewing and delivering custom projects, sky diving, having fun and embracing the sun when it shines, and trying to keep up with our art study--and not necessarily in that order!  Natural vitamin D can be in short supply here, and when the sun comes out, all-of-a-sudden we want to be outdoors instead of indoors.  Plus, we need to take time to just make art since we are a creative group of five!  Get the picture? 

So, lately when the TAG-5 is together on Thursday mornings, we’ve sometimes been only two people having a cheese Danish, coffee and conversation.  When we are four or five, we’ve spent time with personal catching-up and being a support system when those L I F E things happen.  Remember, we were girlfriends first!

Leif Ericson on the shore of newly discovered Vinland (Newfoundland), Book from 1908, Mary MacGregor: Stories of the Viking, Wikimedia Commons

When TAG-5 met last Thursday, we revisited our art study focus.  None of us was ready to move into another time period, so we are on the Viking trail (sail?)at this time. The word ‘Viking’ originally meant making an expedition or journey by water and evolved from there.  The word had no negative connotation.  The voyager did not wear horned hats, as pictured above, but they did have clasps (brooches) to keep their wraps on, they did drink out of horns and wore cuffs and belts with ornamentation.  Instead of telling someone to go-take-a-hike, one could say go-take-a-viking! Just saying . . . I digress . . . but, they were an itinerant lot according to the map below.

Vikings in the 8th -10th centuries, GNU Free Documentation License, Wikimedia Commons
(Names of places are in German language, but are close enough to English to figure them out! )
Can you find Aachen from where Charlemagne reigned?
Interesting to see the rivers that moved the Vikings to the Middle East.

Their L I F E included art, as learned in the Sutton Hoo post.  Looking for more Viking information?  There is a great PBS documentary called “Michael Wood’s Story of England:Romans to Normans.”  This episode investigates Vikings in England. They weren’t all pirates and pillagers; but  people moving from place-to-place or simply commingling with other tribes for their human survival.  I found this absolutely fascinating. 
After viewing this particular PBS episode in the series, my curiosity took over:  If I lived in that time, what would art be?  What would my art/creative pursuit be? Did they call it "art" or was there another term for an individual's creativity?   Did their art always have a functional quality, or was there anything just plain decorative for decorative's sake? Would I have had time to make art while living a subsistence L I F E without the advancements of the last 2,000 years? Is any creative process art as well as craft? (i.e. boat building, tool making, wood carving, spinning, weaving, lace making, or baking bread to name a few. (I say yes!) What questions would you ask them about their art?   And, who put the art in artifacts?
From tomatoes to Vikings, I remain

Mary B.

of Scandinavian and British ancestry
and glad I don't have to rely on my garden for subsistence!

P.S.  I learned from the documentary that Charlemagne specifically purchased woven cloth from "Vikings" in England because of its quality. The map above is a key to other Viking influenced art. 


  1. Interesting post and great idea for a study group. Enjoyed the article in QUILTING ARTS.

  2. As a half-breed Norwegian, I'm intersted in your Viking journey--not to mention your previous explorations. Can you devote an entry into how you decide what to study? That is, do you pick a time period, assign the appropriate chapter in the art history book, and decide to read a few works together? Or do members branch out and each explores a related work and reports on it during meetings? Do members take turns writing up study questions and leading the discussion for the week? Thanks so much for your insights. I, too, enjoyed the QA article.