#15 summer solstice 2017

| No Comments
On Sunday night we went to a party in Pittsboro, North Carolina at  the potter Mark Hewitt's  house. I had last been there twenty years ago. The intrusion of time made its presence known.  I remember when we last visited ZoĆ« was seven. She spent the night at her baby sitter's house here in Warrenton after school and it was fun for Warren and I to drive south instead of north. It was fun to have a night away from home and child and to imagine what if we had moved to North Carolina instead of Virginia. We made it in time for a late lunch at a long table outside with apprentices and friends. It was situated beautifully by his garden with big pitchers of water and a huge salad with hearty bread. The chairs were of different shapes and sizes. The tablecloth was checkered and soft as if it had been used many times. It seemed casual yet carefully orchestrated. Mark was having a museum opening that night which we attended and then afterwards to a dinner. We stayed the night at a motel.

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.

15 summer 2017.jpg

"Occasionally I lean forward and gaze into the water. The water of a pond is a mirror of roughness and honesty - it gives back not only my own gaze, but the nimbus of the world trailing into the picture on all sides. The swallows, singing a little as they fly back and forth across the pond, are flying therefore over my shoulders, and through my hair. A turtle passes slowly across the muddy bottom, touching my cheekbone. If at this moment I heard a clock ticking, would I remember what it was, what it signified?"
--Mary Oliver from her book of essays, Upstream

Leave a comment


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Catherine White published on June 15, 2017 8:57 PM.

#14 summer solstice 2017 was the previous entry in this blog.

#16 summer solstice 2017 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.