Today is my potters birthday! I'm turning over a new leaf and emerging from my chrysalis. I have dabbled with pottery in my free time for some years and today on this chilly December day in Canada is the first day that I can officially call myself a potter! (Okay...so I'm only a part time potter ... but STILL!)
Before the sun has risen up over the city, I'm up and out of bed, pulling on my winter parka and rubber boots to go turn on the kiln, which lives in the alley way next to our kitchen. First I have to unplug our dryer so that I can plug in a massive extension cord and thread it out the kitchen window. I shove blankets in the window to keep the cold air out and crank up the heat in the house. Outside I drag the end of the extension cord down the alley to the kiln and attach the kiln's fist sized plug to the extension cord socket. After triple checking the weather forecast for signs of snow I remove the tarp from the kiln and flip the switch on. The kiln hums as the elements inside instantly start warming up and emit a soothing orange glow that momentarily is cast across the brick walls of the buildings surrounding me. I close the lid of the kiln and the alley returns to darkness and I silently wish my pots good luck. I have guided them through the long journey from a ball of clay to a glazed vessel and now they are on their own in side the fiery box. Like a parent leaving their kids at a sleep away summer camp, there is little that I can do for them now, but wait and hope they are alright, and look forward to seeing how they will have changed and matured during our time apart.
Back in my studio I set to work making a new batch of pots, carefully weighing, wedging and molding each ball of clay. The repetitive movements allow me to become completely absorbed in each tiny maneuver. As my hands move around the spinning clay, I carefully study its response to see how my actions have affected it. We move together in a silent conversation of body language, turning and moving around one another.
Around 9:30 I take a break to bike over to the store for milk and coffee. Its a beautiful sunny morning and the crisp winter air chills my nose and cheeks as people in down coats and parkas dutifully head to work. I'm struck by the liberating feeling of having broken free from the heard and am filled with optimistic thoughts of the possibilities of the future.
This is beginning of a new chapter in life, and it’s a wonderful gift. Part of me worries that I will not appropriately take advantage of this opportunity. I try to remind myself that no one is perfect and that even if I lapse into a period of inefficiency I will find my way again eventually. As Arnold Bennett put it, “The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”