Last night, I joined some of my favorite people at the Gardiner Museum to spend two hours doing pottery. I had eagerly accepted the invitation when it was offered, but on my way down, I was skeptical. While I thought it would be fun, I knew that I was really not a very visually creative person, and I thought I would suck at it.

And I did. I mean, I managed to manipulate my meager talents into a vessel that artistically benefited from a rough and gloriously indelicate hand, but that was more about understanding my limitations than soaring creatively.

But at the end of the evening, sculpted clay in front of me, I looked at my grey, chalky hands and thought, I loved this. I loved my rough, cute little creation and the fact that I had made it with my own two hands. I loved that my own two hands were filthy. Dirty.


Dove is messy. She and her sister can sit next to each other, in front of identical plates of food, armed with identical utensils and only a slight difference in motor-skill ability, and begin to eat, but the differences between the two by the end of the meal, are staggering. Bee will pick at her food in between storytelling, never one to pass up the opportunity to regale a rapt (and trapped) audience. She will soon ask to be excused, sporting a smudge of grated cheese on the apple of her cheek, or perhaps a swipe of tomato sauce on her upper lip. The spot where she sat will need only a cursory wipe during cleanup.

Dove, in comparison, will be almost unrecognizable. She will eat with speed and gusto and exuberance, asking for seconds and often thirds and perhaps she needs so many refills because only approximately 2/3 of the food she is served makes it into her mouth. The rest, well, look around. What is not on her lap, the floor, the table or her shirt is in her hair. Each night I am surprised anew at her ability to paint herself and her surroundings so thoroughly with her supper. Proudly she smiles, and that is when I notice her neck…


My garden is begging to be touched. The earth cries out to be turned, to be massaged; to be utilized. The plants and seeds I have already bought sit on the porch whispering, Don’t forget about me. I look at my desperate garden bed and blink quickly – the earth is literally undulating, reaching out for me, trying to raise itself up towards my hands. I swallow, and an earthworm breaks the surface, soil shifting off its back. I smile at my own ability to trust the impossible.

This weekend we will pull the weeds and trim back the remnants of last year’s foliage. We will rearrange the earth with our fingers before we plant the new flowers and seeds and begin to once again coax beauty from the sun-warmed soil. Our jeans will end up patched with grey and green and our faces will no doubt be smudged with black and when we look at our hands, there will be soil under our fingernails and in the creases of our palms and we will be equal and unabashed in our filthiness. Dirty.



  1. There is nothing like gardening. Jane is already an avid gardener, and it is something I hope we'll always do together.

  2. My son often needs an outfit change after eating because he refuses to wear a bib. I am just happy he no longers rubs food in his hair.

  3. I so want to try pottery. On the occasions when I did, as a teenager, I was awful. Truly awful. But I love the idea of it. Maybe I watched 'Ghost' one two many times, but it really appeals to me.

  4. I'm so intimidated by gardening. I went to the garden centre the other day and wandered around, feeling increasingly confused and panicky, and finally ran out of there with my tail between my legs. I think it would be even WORSE if I managed to buy something and actually bring it home.

  5. oh I miss my beautiful, glorious gardens. we just moved into a new development and are waiting for grass let alone having gardens to tend. its not necessarily about creating the most beautiful thing but the ownership of it all. my lovely gardens are someone elses now, I hope they remember me.

  6. Sob - I *still* can't believe I missed out on the vessel with lid.

    Gardening scares me. I have phlox. And bleeding hearts.

    And that is where my gardening knowledge ends. I envy those that can garden.

  7. Dirt is awesome.
    also very very sad I missed the ceramics, waiting to get at the garden and so, so happy to hear my 2nd is not the only one covered in food at the end of a meal.

  8. Blithe Babbler pretty much left my comment already. Feeling increasingly sorry for myself for missing out on a night with you guys making vessels with lids.

    Also have a terrible black thumb, so gardening is one of those things that gets started and abandoned. So far my excuse involves knowing it will all get ripped up by a bin again one day, so why bother, really?

    and The Bun is capable of some good mess in his passionate meal-eating, too. Maybe that's how those 2nd babies of ours got so big, hmm?

  9. Auntie JennoApril 28, 2010

    I love this post because it contains 4 of my favorite things; creating something lovely with hands, eating, gardening, and my nieces!

  10. blah, blah, blogMay 03, 2010

    ... and it's beautifully written.

    I have never tried pottery--well, since kindergarten, that is-- but have always intended to.

    As for gardening, my nails are dirty from March through November. It sustains me.

    And so it came as a personal affront last week when someone came by and carefully dug up and removed one of my perennials!

    And then came by a few days later for the tag they'd left behind...


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