ARTS & CRAFTS
one beneath the other. She could hang them from a hook in a
wall, from a ceiling, or from the trunk of a tree in her yard.
Outdoors, they become bird feeders, plant holders, orchid
baskets. Some hold holiday decorations. Indoors, smaller
ones can be used for a series of pots to hold live or silk flowers.
The stem can be cut between the baskets so that each is
separate. In Hills’ house, a large one is piled with potatoes
Getting materials to make the baskets proved to be an adventure,
Hills says with a grin. She discovered from the book
that only coconut palm fronds will do because only they have
a hard rib on one side of each blade. The rib is needed to hold
the shape of a basket. Fortunately, Hills loves people, has a
ready smile, and is blessed with the gift of persuasion.
“I went up and down the streets knocking on doors, telling
people I needed their coconut palm fronds, and asking if I
could cut some off their trees,” she says.
“Most people said yes, and sometimes they said if I wanted
to trim their coconut palms, I was welcome to come back any
time. At that point I became friends with anyone who owned
a coconut palm.”
Hills, 51, and her husband, Edward, live full time in a motor
home. They often stay north of Vero Beach. The couple
have been traveling since they retired about five years ago
and sold their home in Buffalo, N.Y.
Her hobby draws as much rapt attention from onlookers
at campgrounds and parks as it did for the man she first saw
weaving baskets on a Key West sidewalk — or maybe more
because she weaves the blades while they are still attached >> Resting on a copper-leaved bromeliad at McKee Botanical Garden, a basket
remains attached to the frond from which it was woven.