Saturday, May 21, 2011

Iris in Bloom

It is that time of year, like so many years before, that I pack up a multitude of items to be shipped northward to the store. It is such a familiar task, that, in doing so, all the years somehow seem to meld into one. Boxes, bubble wrap, labels and tape. There happen to be certain things that I love to have for the shop which are unable to be shipped direct to the store or to my shipper, so in these cases I act as the freight forwarder, so we are able to have them available for you in Cordova. One of these things comes from a place that I get to see, and it is something I want to share with you, so you may see the beginnings of what you see on the shelf, and the special face behind it.

I would like you to meet Linda, and take a peek at her backyard kiln.

Linda is a potter who has a small pottery studio in the little town of Davenport, California, a spot with the sweet fragrance of the sea and, at this time of year, is laced with hillsides of blooming wild radishes .

Here are some of her berry bowls drying on the rack, waiting to be fired, then glazed...

Each piece is individually thrown on the potter's wheel and hand painted by her... with a little help from a little furry friend...

Linda used to work with a partner, Will, but now works solo on the lovely Iris mugs, vases, and bowls we have been selling in the shop for over twenty years. I had thought, years ago, that they would be perfect for Cordova, because they were reminiscent of the beautiful fields of wild iris that bloom in the fields beside Alaganik Slough and along the banks of the Eyak River in the summertime.

Before the time of the current baggage charges, I would pack the pottery into boxes and trunks with each of my children's clothing. At that time, I had the dimensions and weight restrictions memorized, and with seventy-five pounds allowed per box, I could get quite a lot of freight transported up as luggage. In light of this, my children always used to roll their eyes when I would ask for their summer clothes, as they knew the fate of what would become of their personal effects. And so, as they knew well, stacks of clothes disappeared and found themselves surrounding and cushioning stacks of bowls, mugs, and dishes, and it would be awhile before their T-shirts, pants and sweaters would resurface. At that time, I remember heading to the airport with kids in tow with sometimes as many as 15 boxes ( and coolers filled with chocolate), an assortment of musical instruments, and the massive mountain ahead that faced me of unpacking the shop from its winter rest, just as the lupine and wildflowers came into bloom.

Somehow picking up the pottery brings back all these memories of all those times back then. It is a seasonal ritual for me, and it is when, like the salmon, I sniff the air and smell the northland calling for me, not just for a week or two week stint, but for the season. And so, as I arrived at Linda's on a spring in Davenport day this week, the memories flooded and the years washed into a stream of nostalgia. When I entered her studio, I had a tinge of excitement as I felt the familiar rush of seeing all those beautifully painted mugs and dishes made just for The Net Loft.
I loved seeing her spot in the back of her coastal cottage where she throws her pots in a sunlit corner surrounded by windows, and looking out on her well tended garden.

After a nice cup of tea with Linda, and a quick catch up of the time that had passed between our last visit over a year ago, we set to our other ritual, that of wrapping each piece carefully in newspaper for its journey northward. A time of chatting, wrapping, and chatting some more...Piece by piece, preparing them carefully for their long journey ahead. It is funny how such a simple action can spur so many memories. It means summertime is rushing in, and there is nothing I can do to hold it back. Soon, like the traveling Iris pottery, the real ones will be making their grand appearance. Fields will be full of flowers, fish will return to the streams, and friends who have been away will show their faces. It is the only life I know.

Today, as I am packing the boxes to be shipped north (air freight these days), I am thinking about all those boxes, and all those clothes I used to pack them with, and even more specifically, about the children who used to fill those clothes. It reminds me of how much I miss them. I smile as I remember those times and the thought of summertime ahead, and although my travel companions (my children) won't be with me for the airplane ride, at least a couple of them will be there for the fishing season. And, I believe, there are many more memories just waiting to be made...hikes to be hiked...bouquets to be gathered...classes to be taught...salmon to be eaten...and special times upstairs knitting around the Net Loft table with friends. When I drink out of my iris mug, it is a cup of summertime, and I don't want to miss a single drop of it...
See you soon.



Lorelei said...

I wish I could join you around the knitting table with an iris mug full of tea! We may be coming to Cordova for a visit this year though, and I hope to stop by the shop, my long lost friend. Lorelei :}

The Net Loft said...

Missing you too Lorelei.
Come see us. Bring your knitting, and I 'll put the tea water on... I just had a memory of your apple pie that you would leave a slice of on my table for me... and the cute kids wandering about...good and wonderful memories... Hope you will come this summer. Love, Dotty