Dry Summer

On Saturday August 6th around 8:30 in the morning my Uncle Henry died. He was born in 1935 and was only slightly younger than my mother, born in 1934, who died seven year ago.

I am dyslexic. There were many things about my early life at school that were hard. But I was blessed to have a mother that saw me for who I was and she noticed that I liked to make things. I made things out of twigs, tinfoil, anything I could find. She thought that what I needed was to get to know her brother. So at 15 I traveled from Virginia to New Mexico to live with my Uncle Henry, his then partner and future wife, Mary Mikklesen and their toddler Matt. The plan was that I would be Henry’s pottery apprentice.  We did not know how it would work and how long I would stay but it worked well and I stayed all summer.

A little pitcher I made in 1975. After I left Henry glazed the pot with HP White and gave it to me that Christmas. I think this pot is the only collaboration on a physical object I had with Henry, but Henry’s influence is in everything I have made since that summer.

That summer changed my life: I learned to make pots, I learned to cook. It was the first step in me becoming an artist. Henry was my first and most important art teacher. While teaching me how to make pots Henry also told me how he thought a person should exist in this world. Fifteen is a good time to have a mentor and Henry remained a mentor the rest of my life and he and Mary were particularly influential and helpful to me when Katy and I became parents in 1989 and 1990. Henry and Mary were models for us on how to live and be.

One thing I learned in the summer of 1975 was how to garden in a dry climate. Everything in Henry and Mary’s garden in Albuquerque was planted in a shallow well. When you watered you just watered that well. I now plant in shallow wells, even here in relatively wet Hull. But Hull has not been Hull this summer as it is soooo dry. Last Sunday as I watered the garden I thought about Henry and that garden in Albuquerque.

But not all is sad in the world. It is tomato and cucumber season in the garden and we are eating well as the arugula persists. But for a change there is good news from Washington. We now have a good law to help with Climate Change. I was shocked and so surprise and happy that we will be taking steps to incentivize good choices that will do something about Climate Change. There is so much work to do and we must all do our part but it was nice that, for a change, the government is helping us make better choices. Choices that value our earth and other species.

I know I am fortunate to have a garden. If you also are fortunate and have a garden may gardening in your garden and thinking about past gardens and thanking your mentors help you make better choices.

Here in Hull tonight it is predicted to rain. May the rain fall on you and your garden.

Butternut Squash and Mint with a little Arugula and Kale

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