The concrete foundations were poured last month, and we let them cure under an insulated tarpaulin with flood lamps underneath to keep it from freezing. The cats have been curious, occasionally playing tag through the tarpaulin, chasing each others movements as if they were mice under a blanket. Once the slab was revealed, Jiji (the alpha male) made an inspection, and, satisfied, they have now lost all interest.
It is a thing of beauty.
This is where the chimney shall be...
and here shall be a fire box!
The next snow was only shallow, and made the slab look like a fresh, white, stretched page waiting for the artists brush. The snow continued, though, and parts of Minakami had 130cm. We only had 30 or so, sheltered in our valley, but it has been a challenge none the less. The little truck is only two wheel drive, and getting through the snow to fetch the timber for the kiln shed has been an adventure!
Our friend Raku has been helping, but it is too cold outside to do much constructive work, so we have moved the timber inside, into the room with the holey floor. There I will cut the joins so that, when the snow clears, we can fit the frame together quickly.
But the snow seems to linger, and even as it melts it forms great icicles which hang from the eaves and threaten to pounce upon the unsuspecting who may happen to pass below.
I drive the boys to the bus stop, and Sora to school, for I feel it is too cold to make her walk. Above the highway there is a digital temperate display. It tells me it is -12C. Not as cold as parts of Europe this year, but cold enough for me. I return home, careful as I enter the house to steer clear of the talons of the winter beast that lurks on the roof. His great clawed hand reaches across the guttering, and I have taught the children to be wary of his grasp.
Inside, our home is warm and safe, and little by little we are returning to something close to normal. It will still be a while before my pottery is in full swing, till the kiln shed and kiln are built and I am firing again, but those things will come. For the moment there are more important things to do; to keep the fires stoked and my family warm; to put hot food on the table and provide a hot bath to follow; to listen to them, to hug them, to tell them that I love them and that everything is OK. To make silly jokes with them and laugh till we cry. I will protect them from the winter beast, and nourish them with love. When the time comes to pot once more, it is for them that I will make my work, and what a joy that will be!