Matsu (pine) remains green all winter and beautifies the landscape. It denotes endurance and longevity, inner strength and resistance to hardship:
Take (bamboo) grows quickly and bends, but never breaks, during harsh conditions. It too represents endurance and strength, as well as flexibility:
And ume (plum) blossoms appear during the winter, signaling the approaching Spring. They represent hope, vitality, beauty, and optimism during difficult times.
In thinking about what to add in the fourth square, I decided on arrow feathers (yabane) which naturally symbolize the strength and courage of a warrior:
I worked the sampler on indigo, with off-white sashiko thread (which reads pure white, against the indigo). And for a bit of whimsy I backed this little sampler with some blue and white tenugui printed with cute plovers:
I confess that it's not really a very practical little item, but it could be used as a bread basket liner or napkin... or perhaps as a drawer liner scented with perfume or essential oil.
And now... with the house in a quiet, relatively clean calm state with dishwasher running, laundry (almost) caught up, fire in the wood stove, fridge filled to the brim... we are happily awaiting our girls and a passel of their friends for the long weekend to help us celebrate Thanksgiving. A few from Boston and a few from New York City - sweet compensation for last year's Thanksgiving spent far from them, in Japan!
Linking up with Slow Bloggers... hosted this month by Willis of "Hey, Sis, Look What I Made" - she has a thoughtful post about how "life happens" - we can all relate!!