Monday, February 14, 2011

Hand Work

A new hand-thrown mug,
a gift from the potter,
necessitates a clean counter.

As you scrub, you notice that even the plastic thingy under the dish drain needs washing. Actually, you notice this frequently, but today, eyeing the mug, you decide to scrub it. Why is this? Why wouldn't the mug just call for sipping tea on the couch?

You think, perhaps, that you feel the work of the mug under the potter's hands, the slide of the clay, the smooth of the slip. You need to honor this work with work of your own.

Being, as you are, an apocalyptic thinker, you of course also appreciate that potters are still around, making things by hand, preserving skills that will be needed when climate-related disaster strikes and the world returns to one of things made by hand. You are grateful that some people are dedicating their lives to those skills that you yourself have left behind in previous generations. You really meant to attend the "re-skilling fair," to learn how to pickle and can things, and how to warp a loom, but someone had stomach flu, or a baseball game, or something, and you missed it.

Once the counter is clean enough to deserve a hand-thrown mug, you are free to sit on the couch and knit. This is one of those skills, last seen in your grandmother's hands, but glory be, your kids, your little, charter-school-attending kids, have learned to knit in school and are taking great pride in teaching you.

You try to forget that someday you might really, really need to know how to do this, and just enjoy using your hands in this moment, making something useful, sipping tea.