|Navajo A Grand Illusion Basket - Alicia Nelson (#213)|
While I hate to stereotype, my opinion is that Reservation dwellers are notorious for not paying attention to the clock. They often see time in an altogether different light. Meeting someone in an hour or six is frequently all the same to them. "Can't do it", I said, "supper's waitin' at home and I gotta get to it." "I've heard you sing that tune before,” said Alicia, "but my daughter Caitlin is leaving on a school trip and I need to send traveling money with her." I groaned out loud, raising a curious look from the customer standing by the register attempting to extract sand from his ear and pay for a packet of Serena Supplee note cards. Priscilla moved in to pass him a Q-tip, which we keep around just for such an occasion, and cash him out.
Refocusing on Alicia, I recognized she has struggled since she and Jonathan Black separated. Although it broke my heart to do so, I have turned away a few of her weavings in the past two years because they were not up to her unusually high standards. Alicia recognized my hesitation and seemed to read my mind, saying, "You are going to love this basket. I guarantee it!" Because I am a born skeptic and was also looking forward to visiting with my daughter, Alyssa, who is home from college, I really did not want to wait. "Here's the deal", I told Alicia, "Stay home tonight and take your time finishing the basket. Steve is managing the cafe in the morning, so he will be here to appraise it." Alicia agreed to my proposal, said good-bye and hung up.
As it happened, Steve was roped into working the Saturday night shift, so the Sunday morning opening fell to me. Alicia showed up around 10:00 a.m., and we walked next door to the trading post for the unveiling. I will freely admit that when she handed me her weaving I was blown away. She had woven an extremely intricate and symmetrical illusion basket, one of the hardest designs to make. This masterpiece was easily one of the best baskets I have ever seen her execute. It seems Alicia has found peace and settled back into the mastery of her art. As she drove away, I set her basket on the shelf and stood back to appreciate it. Illusion baskets attempt to fool the eye and trick the mind into seeing subtle movement through complex designs. The patterns need to be placed precisely, and there is no room for error. If it is not properly done, the design fails to create the desired effect. I stared at the basket and in short order the darn thing made me dizzy; it worked perfectly. Not only is Alicia's basket extraordinary, but also a dear friend has regained her balance. In one fell swoop a grand illusion was dispatched and a grander illusion created.
With warm regards, Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny: the team.