Sometimes a thing happens that just makes you feel good, something out of the ordinary, perhaps something unexpected (but not to be confused with undeserved) and something miraculous - and that is how I felt when I read that Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina resident Mary Jackson received one of the 2008 McArthur Fellowships.
These fellowships are often referred to as 'Genius Grants'. You can't run for them, ask for them, train for them. Jackson was selected because of her 'fiber art' - she makes these incredible baskets out of sweetgrass. On most nice days and alot of less than nice ones, women are sitting along Highway 17 near where I live, weaving baskets out of sweetgrass, strips of palmetto, pine needles and other natural fibers. Unfortunately, development out this way is changing their world too rapidly.
Good for her. Double, triple good for her. Now how wonderful is this news?
Congratulations, Mary Jackson.
Take a look here at a wonderful article at the City Paper on Jackson's award...and this article over at the NYTimes on the annoucement of the twenty-five 2008 Fellows. To see some examples of her work - take a look here. Read a bit about the history of sweetgrass baskets here.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention something about the sweetgrass itself - Hierochloe odorata - you can order seeds here and read a bit about it here. (Hmmm...or is it Muhlenbergia filipes? I'm pretty sure that it is the later. This distribution makes much more sense. I need to find out about this.)