Friday, 6 January 2017

Epiphany

Deep and crisp and even...the snow has made it's way right up to the front wall of the house, despite the wide eaves, and it crunches beneath my feet as I open the storm shutters. The sun rising in the south east is like a thumb smudge of yellow ochre on the slate grey sky, and a dust of fine snow flakes wafts on the breeze. Yuletide is ending, a new year has begun.

The cat greets me with a mewl which undulates in rhythm with his trotting steps as he leaves a dotted line of footprints in the snow. Brushing briefly against my legs, he slides past me through the front door as I take a few logs of firewood from the stack beneath the kitchen window. I knock the snow from them before I carry them into the house. Placing one of them on the chopping block on the earthen floor of the studio I split it into kindling, firstly with the heavy axe, then finer with my "nata", the Japanese hatchet. I gather up the kindling and the splinters and chips from around the chopping block, take the firewood into the living room and place it on the hearth. 

I scrape the ash from yesterdays fire through the grate into the ash pit below. There are still a few embers, glowing feebly in the dim of the fire chamber, and I gather them together in the middle of the grate. After positioning a large piece of wood on each side of the fire box, I sprinkle the splinters and wood chips onto the embers between them, then fine kindling on top, thicker kindling on top of that and finally a larger piece diagonally across the whole stack. Closing the firebox, I remove the ashes into a metal scoop and take it out to the dirt floor to cool safely, leaving the ash pit door cracked slightly open to let in extra draft. 

Watching through the glass of the firebox door as the embers begin to revive, the cherry red gradually turns orange and spreads into the black charcoal. The splinters begin to char, the embers glow yellow. A spark flies, the chips begin to smoke and pop. Flame suddenly spurts from a splinter and begins to spread through the chips and into the kindling, hungry, feeding, growing. The logs begin to burn and I close the ash pit door, leaving the air vent open. The rest of the family will be stirring soon. Now, I can start cooking breakfast.

The scene is set, and sometimes the scene is all we need. Each day, I take notice of the present, the little things that life presents to me. Life is made up of such moments, and the more meaningful we make those moments the richer our lives will be. It is the accumulation of these experiences and our interpretation and understanding of them that makes us who we are. Great hope and inspiration can be found in the simplest of things. Even something as mundane as lighting the fire and cleaning the ash. No matter how insignificant our efforts may seem, from those embers of hope a flame may grow, and who knows how far that flame may spread.

16 comments:

  1. Happy New Year Euan and thanks for your inspiring text... while we are having a relatively cool day in Sydney (22C at 7pm)we don't need a fire to keep us warm... we can appreciate the rain showers we had today. You paint a lovely picture of your morning.

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    1. Wish I could send some snow your way!

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  2. Lighting a fire..mundane but creative,as is preparing food.

    Time to think, to focus,to take a breath, gather thoughts and courage.

    Wishing you and yours well. Thankyou for your writing and your making.

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    1. Thank you, gz, for sharing breath, thoughts and courage.

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  3. For those of us who heat with wood restarting or stoking the wood stove is part of a morning ritual.

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    1. Yes, it is the meditation that starts the day.

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  4. Welcome to 2017. May it provide wonders large and small. Keep an eye out for the 2019 Australian Ceramics Triennale in May. (2019) I am helping start this one up. Tasmanian life is perfect. Cheers Bronwyn. Natalie has just been down to visit.

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    1. Lovely to hear that you are enjoying Tassie, let me know how the Triennale plans are coming along!

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  5. Thank you for sharing, your beautiful thoughts. Which brings to mind a conversation with my husband; over the holidays I was sweeping a renovated outdoor area, sweeping away the leaves & dog hair, he asked, do you want to buy a leaf blower? My reply was no, sweeping is meditative. Sweeping makes me think of the many women before me that would have swept to keep their homes clean...my Grandmother being one, and also it gives me time to notice the little things, such as the Christmas beetle that has come to visit near our backdoor.

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    1. I agree, Jenny, it is the process itself which is important in our growth, not the result. What we discover about the world and ourselves.

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  6. Euan it's wonderful to read your post again and thank you for writing about the beauty of our daily routines and the ever-new repetitions in our lives. What's been happening with you since last April?
    All the best,
    Susan in Niagara

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Since my last post in April of 2015, I have been thinking. Thinking about my place in the world, as children grow and seasons change and the workd struggles for breath in so many ways. I have been making pots and taking small steps, very carefully, and this post is now one of them.

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    2. You can do no more nobly for humanity than to live a life of depth and integrity. The perfume of it reaches farther than you know. With deep gratitude.

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  7. I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
    Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
    And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
    Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

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    1. For the potters life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know..

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  8. I am always inspired by the mindfulness of your words and how you can stop to focus on the extraordinary in the ordinary. I will endeavor to do the same as I now go and make a pot of pumpkin soup, whist pretending I am using a pit fire [or giving thanks for my electric one!]
    It very special to now visualize you going about your day in you lovely surroundings. N x

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