I had first met Mark when I was twenty and he was the apprentice to a famous potter in England. I had hitchhiked to Devon, England and walked the last few kilometers to Michael Cardew's house. It was down a beautiful country lane and the first thing I encountered was this tall young man with curly brown hair carrying two big pitchers of water back to the house. He invited me in and we had a simple lunch with tea. He let me wander around the pottery while he went back to work. Michael was away and Mark let me know that as an apprentice it was not all potting. There was lots of garden chores and household up-keep. I think he was weeding that day as well as recycling clay. At the end of a lovely afternoon he drove me to a beautiful youth hostel on the coast where the sun was setting. The hostel was full, but they let me pull out my sleeping bag in a shed on an old mattress and use the bathroom to brush my teeth and the kitchen to make some tea to have with my cheese and bread. It was the time in my life when I was traveling with a backpack and a notebook looking for the way to my path in life. I had a dream of becoming an apprentice but after meeting Mark I decided that either your grandfather and the potter's grandfather had to be school chums or you just had to arrive on the day when someone had just quit. And so far neither had happened so I was heading home to NYC to make some money and go back to school.
At this Sunday night party there was a dinner with another beautiful salad, a huge loaf of rough peasant bread, polenta, giant white beans with herbs and garlic and lots of different styles of pickles and cheese. I sat back on a bench in the dark and looked at the silhouette of Mark's barn, the kilns shed and a few giant pots balanced in perfect placement against the mowed fields. The place was flawlessly manicured, the roses trimmed, the boards weathered and dirt floor packed. Not a thing out of place. All the choices we had each made to get to this point in time seemed like a distant yet vibrant memory.
--Mary Oliver from her book of essays, Upstream