spring equinox 2019

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I read in various places this week about how taking pictures is a form of paying attention. Today as I photographed to document the balanced moment of the equinox in our year of light, I kept changing my mind about what I was after, arranging daffodils and willow, shifting pots, placing sculptures, removing a painting without breaking anything. This strange dance of arranging, shooting, changing, adding an inch of air feels the way spring feels around here. It has been warm one day, then cool and drying an inch and then drenched in more rain. Our buds on trees and flowers emerge and then look as if they shrug saying hold that thought.

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.
ee cummings

#21 decembrance 2018

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I walked in the warm afternoon air toying with the idea of getting in the kayak to inspect the high waters and beaver made canals and dams. But the wind picked up and I heard the crack of a tree falling where I was hoping to paddle. The dog heard it too and stood alert at the water's edge. I became attentive to swaying trees. I wondered about the roots and how deep they mine the ground. Could I hear the moon rise or perceive the shift and sway from the shortest day of the year to increasing daylight hours?

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If an inaudible whistle
blown between our lips
can send him home to us,
then silence is perhaps
the sound of spiders breathing
and roots mining the earth;
it may be asparagus heaving,
headfirst, into the light
and the long brown sound
of cracked cups, when it happens.

--Lisel Mueller, from What the Dog Perhaps Hears

#20 decembrance 2018

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At the beginning of my evening walks I have to remind myself to pay attention. There are the crows in the trees clothed in the night. Or do I see the small boats of milkweed pods?  Perhaps I'm missing the imaginative loops of honeysuckle.  As my rhythmic footsteps take over the logical part of my brain, darkness gathers the leaves into a quilt and in the architecture of trees I find rejuvenation in our crazy world.

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Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there's left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn't cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it's all we have, and it's never enough.

--Barbara Crooker, "Praise Song"

#19 decembrance 2018

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We walked tonight when it was almost fully dark. Our route took us up along the stream that feeds the pond to inspect the beaver dams and chewed branches. The moon kept us company on our path through the bare limbs. When we fired the last kiln I had dreams of stoking the back ports with wood collected from the beaver dams, perfectly gnawed and stripped of leaves and side branches. I made a few small piles, but then we decided not to stoke the back ports and my piles sit by the stream edge without remorse or excuse.

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Consider the half-moon,
How it gains as it is falling;

How it finds its true fulfillment,
Yet remains to be fulfilled;

How it knows its own path,
And will rise through the night
With a cold eye
Having no fear, no pity--

Half-moon, might you rise

From the darkness of my fingertips
As you rise in the sky,

Without remorse, without excuse.

--Charles Wright, Half-Moon.

#18 decembrance 2018

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On my walk this evening I watched the diving ducks disappearing and bobbing back up, questioning if they feel the cold, wondering exactly what they can see, taste, and feel when they dive down. I had a chipped and almost shattered mug in my pocket which I tossed into the depths to swim with the fishes and with the splash most of the ducks flew off. A few paused at the far end of the water as if to question what does a mug do at the bottom of the pond.

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If the river was whiskey
I would be a diving duck
If the river was whiskey
I would be a diving duck
I would swim to the bottom, but I would drink my way up
--Sleepy John Estes (1962)

#17 decembrance 2018

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Last night I was exhausted from the weeks of making pots, firings, and all the steps involved in our open house. I dreamt of events that were a mix of family weddings combined with a pottery sale. In my dream we had forgotten to light candles but I reminded my panicked friend that it was okay as my mother had sent boxes of candles from her grave--as if that was perfectly normal. We had floating candles in animal shapes along with fruit to embellish our fancy tables all interspersed with our woodfired pottery. I laughed at myself, reflecting that my mother's candles are still lighting my dreams almost fifteen years after her death. When we returned to the Maine cottage the summer after my mother died I felt as if I ran into her in the turn of my wrist. In certain sunlight my bones could not forget her habits of sweeping, writing postcards or taking naps.

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lost summer returns
in certain sunlight, her wrist
of fine hair glistens
--Greg Sellers, Haiku journal entry, 17 December 2018

#16 decembrance 2018

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We have opened our doors, greeted friends old and new, poured cups of water, cider, and wine in the hopes that we can help others to see the wonder in everyday experiences and the potential of ceramics. 

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"I write for other people with the hope that I can help them to see the wonderful things within their everyday experiences. In short, I want to show people how interesting the ordinary world can be if you pay attention."

--Ted Kooser

#15 decembrance 2018

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Today was not the first December rain nor I'm guessing the last, but everything wanted a rain coat--including the geese who stood on our pond dock until even it was underwater.

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First winter rain--
even the monkey
seems to want a raincoat.


#14 decembrance 2018

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The gallery is full of pots. The future of who will come by this weekend, what conversations will happen, and what insights will be gained is still a blank slate.

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"The calendar is full but the future is blank."

--Tomas Tranströmer, The Deleted World: Poems

#13 decembrance 2018

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As I photograph pots I remember the road to making. The seeds of ideas, the landscape I was traveling through, or the gears that were churning in my imagination. Each material step of making reveals which choice I should make. Then the firing provides new leaps of faith--the promise of ash or flashing, the heat that may encourage shape shifting. Yet as I photograph the object it is as if the form has always been here.

When I began making these plates I was thinking of the history and feeling of industry motivated by the gears and wheels left around the Archie Bray facility. It was an inside-out quality of shape, but what I kept coming back to was the clay itself. The fields, the hillsides, the earth, the roads we travel are in fact among the only choices we can make.

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The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back
to the only road in the end you could follow [...]

-- David Whyte, from Pilgrim, © 2012, Many Rivers Press

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