The fire glows dull gold through the opening at the bottom of the wood stove in the predawn darkness. The sound of the flame within roars a muted bass note to the soprano singing of the metal expanding with the heat. The kettle joins the ensemble and, if I listen very closely, I can hear the steady rise and fall of my family breathing in their futons on the tatami floor in the washitsu beyond. The fragrances of wood smoke and heating metal join those of tatami and coffee. I pick up my yunomi, it's surface hot against my fingers, the subtle texture of the chattered hip counterpointing the smoothness of the shoulder. Taking a mouthful of coffee, it's complex flavours flowing hotly round my tongue, I can feel it's passage as I swallow, it's warmth soaking into my chest.
None of this is extraordinary, at least not in the common understanding, but every moment of every day, every experience that touches my senses, every feeling that moves my soul is precious. I have always known this, that is why I chose to become a potter, why I live the life I do. I have not made pots for several months now, instead I have been a carpenter or a plumber or a myriad of other roles that a man must be in order to ensure the welfare and safety of his family. I have been a father, and a husband, and a friend, as best I could, for these are occupations which take precedence over all others.
Soon, I will be a potter again. My studio awaits me beyond the shoji screens, free now of the timber for the kiln shed. We have finally finished cutting the joints in the preloved posts and beams, and though they are not the work of a professional, they will do. Yesterday's snow will melt in a few days and I can begin the task of building the kiln shed, and then the kiln. But that is not today.
The road goes on, one step at a time, and we are moving forward. We have come a long way, and looking back it is a miracle that we have come this far in just one year. We have a long way to go, and though the way forward is unclear sometimes, we know it will open for us if we remain faithful and resolute. It is important not to forget the here and now, though, by dwelling on the past or longing for the future. Today is good and blessed, full of love and beauty.