In hot climates such as here in New Mexico and in Peru, we all wear hats. Here, they are usually mass-produced commercial hats, probably manufactured in other countries, such as the one I wear. They are not very interesting although they serve the purpose of shielding our faces from the dangerous sun. I added a snake skin I found along the trail to mine, and enjoyed attaching it to the brim with delicate stitches more than anything else I did this past week.
The Peruvian hat makers shown in this film made by Erica Nguyen, a fellow at the Women’s International Study Center here in Santa Fe, are part of an ancient tradition. While the hats they carefully make also shield from the sun, they serve a much wider purpose, linking makers and wearers to their heritage. As the raven who is speaking to me now from the tree outside my door—she, and two others are my regular visitors and complain when I’m not outside—we are all connected by thin threads to a larger community and an older tradition, even when we are not aware of it and suffer as so many of us do now from loneliness.
In my case, my community is made up of women writers as it has always been. The workshop I taught two weeks ago on Zoom reminded me yet again of the great variety in the stories women write, and the great variety in the level of skills and in voice they illustrate. We all have so much we want to communicate.
I wish the next writing workshop I’ll teach, beginning in a week, could include the joyfulness and the color of these hat makers in Peru. We have only the joy and the color of shared words. But that at least is a beginning.