One of the first Adirondack Pack Baskets I saw was a weathered old antique pack, that had a canvas skin sewn over the top. It had bits of black ash splint broken and was slightly asymmetrical. You could almost smell the pine needles infused into its pores. On the front it had written boldly in black writing 'Dauntless paves the Trapper'. I was instantly taken by the personality of this basket with its old canvas harness. Someone had hand-woven it years before, enjoyed many an adventure, and here it was, oozing history and handsome charm. Arguably even more beautiful having been 'worked in' and certainly better for the adventures it had gone on.
On second glance, I realised that the words scrawled across the front didn't read 'Dauntless paves the trapper', but 'Dauntless dave the trapper'. I began wondering about 'Dave'. 'Who was Dave? What was he like? Where did he weave the pack and on what adventures had he taken it?'. Before too long I had conjured an image of 'Dave' in my minds-eye. The version I imagined was certainly braver than I. Fierce and unyielding, striding boldly into the wilderness. I wondered about his choice of the word 'dauntless'. It's not a quality I would associate with myself, my deep longing for adventure often in direct conflict with searing bouts of anxiety.
Charmed by this particular pack basket though, I began to study the styles of other old packs. 'Adirondack' was a term that I had encountered before, especially in relation to the 'Adirondack Chair', however I had not appreciated the rich history and tradition behind the aesthetic. Each basket appeared to have something entirely unique to its maker. A silent 'signature' woven by the hand of the maker into each basket made in a traditional way, echoing the era of a generation.
Weaving, I have since discovered, is an incredibly mindful activity that allows ample time for reflection. As I began weaving my own baskets, I spent time questioning the nature of 'adventure'. I questioned its association involving something 'daring' and its definition often aligned with 'risk'. For my family and my children, an 'adventure' simply involves a short hike somewhere new, snorkelling a bay or aquatic reserve or simply sharing a sunset on the beach as the waves roll in. Nothing particularly daring or risky. Adventure for us is a collection of shared 'moments' in the natural world. By the time I was fitting the harnesses onto my woven baskets, I realised that 'adventure' can be incredibly elusive. Unless you choose to 'make time' for it, over other things, then huge chunks of time slip by without much 'adventure' at all. But it is those collective moments or experiences that I treasure most, and all too often I am reminded that I don't choose 'adventure' often enough when I could and when I should have.
By the time I finished weaving this collection, I realised exactly what I had woven into each basket. I could recognise my silent signature. And it wasn't in any particular finish or a trim or design, but it was my hope and dream that you too might set aside the time for whatever 'adventure' looks like and means to you. To choose it on occasion above other things. In trying to live more consciously, I believe it is the choice that is adventurous, not any specific activity (especially in a world that prioritises other things). In daring to live a little differently, in resisting some of the expectations that are placed on us and some of the pressures we place on ourselves, (perhaps side-stepping off the treadmill once in a while), is what I find adventurous. I am still reminded of 'dauntless dave the trapper' on occasion. But I have re-imagined him now. I think maybe he wrote the word 'dauntless' not because he necessarily felt it, but as a reminder, encouraging himself to 'be it'. Dauntless for me is choosing to live a bit slower, choose more wisely and live more freely.
My hope for this collection is two-fold, that it may inspire you to fill your own pack with precious moments and memories, that seeing it around your home will remind you we can make the choice for a more 'adventurous life' in simple ways, and that years from now it might become a keepsake that reminds you of long, happy days, well-spent. So that your basket, just like Daves, only gets better with age.