Sunday, July 14, 2013

it all comes down to miracles

This was the week of the Praying Hands (candles, that is). I sold out last Saturday, including two that were made by special request, those being one cinnamon-beeswax Praying Hands candle and one cinnamon-beeswax Praying Hands figurine (no wick), which means there’s at least one customer out there who fell for my “one to burn, one to keep” slogan. Toward the end of the market the remaining hands were bought by a woman who asked if there were more.

The Praying Hands.

This is what happens with the hands. They sit and sit and then one day they are all snatched up. This time the snatching extended to the Etsy site as Tuesday I received an order for a dozen Praying Hands from a store in South Carolina. They also ordered a dozen Psychic Charmers. (Uh oh—I just realized my first sale yesterday was for all the Psychics I had on hand … )

The Praying Hands are one of my favorite candles, mostly because the mold came from my candlemaking mentor and friend, Bud the Beekeeper. He’d had the mold for years, said he rarely sold the candle so wasn’t making it anymore, and the first fair I went to with him I said: Let’s make a Praying Hands candle and see what happens. Well, as Bud expected, it sat there as jars of honey, other candles, and gift baskets flew off the table. Then, right at the end of the fair, along came a large, bearded guy in a black leather jacket and clunky boots. He picked up the little pair of hands and bought it.

A second absolutely still morning awash in fog and mosquitoes. A second morning of a fire in the wood stove, screen door replacing glass, an attempt to suck moisture out of the air. A second morning of 55 degrees. I was awakened last night by a strange noise that at first sounded like a laughing coo-coo bird. The crazy, slightly evil laughter pulled me from deep sleep and dreams to half-awake and uncertain right on through to fully awake and curious, albeit slightly peeved. Between the damp and the mosquitoes and an uncommonly restless cat, sleep had been hard to come by. The noise drew me downstairs to the kitchen screen door through which I saw smudgy fog and the blurry blinking lights of fireflies. The laughter came from the river.

Lately, also, fire, starting a few months ago when I received an email from a past neighbor: Your old house just burned down. This was the house in Sand River, the one I moved from in 2011. A couple of weeks ago the wildfire in Arizona took the house of one my sister’s friends, and earlier this week the farm I used to volunteer at lost to fire their big, beautiful, old barn, the main hub of their operation. Jennifer, my sister, spent much of this past week in Yarnell with her friend Vanessa sifting through ashes.

Here lies Vanessa’s bicycle.

I saw the Hatfields (the farm, Seeds & Spores, is run by two families, the Hatfields and the Chiodis) at the end of yesterday’s market. If you want strawberries, Jeff said, take some. He shrugged. “We’ve lost our cooler.” Such a weariness in the eyes, but a T-shirt proclaiming: Shiitake happens.

Among other things, Seeds & Spores grows shiitake mushrooms, and because the mushrooms grow in the shade, it was one of my favorite spots on the farm, which operates as a CSA, shareholders getting weekly bins of produce and maybe eggs and fresh-cut flowers. It is also a lynchpin of the farmers market and a supplier to the food co-op and some local restaurants. The Hatfields and Chiodis have helped others get started with farming and have shared immeasurably in any number of ways. My first day at the farm, standing with Jeff Chiodi and others at an outdoor table doing something with vegetables, I was questioned about who I was, how I got to the U.P. from Chicago, all that, and for the first time my oh-my-husband-left-me story made me laugh.

Some of the chickens at the farm, circa 2008 or 9.

The other night, through the glass of the loft’s sliding patio door, I saw a crescent moon just above the horizon, a backward C leaning on its heels. The sky was dark aquamarine blue. On the screened part of the door thousands of mosquitoes bounced and latched on, as somebody said yesterday, “like zombies.” What a heavenly summer this has been for mosquitoes! They love the damp, the humidity, the stillness, the rain, the heat—whatever we’ve got. My Animal Energies book by Gary Buffalo Horn Man and Sherry Firedancer instructs that “Mosquito offers us the dubious gift of distraction … a means through which to measure … (one’s) determination and focus.”
If Mosquito has picked you out as food, you can react blindly with distress and imbalance, or you can honor them for their place in the Web of Life and come to terms with the reality that we share the Earth with them.
Har de har har, slap.

Driving to the market yesterday I heard on the radio “Red Rubber Ball,” a song unheard in many a moon, and driving home I was once again listening to Bruce Springsteen: “Countin’ on a Miracle.” Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t a miracle when we just get through a day without shiitake happening. For the most part, we do.

I rolled down the windows for the smell of fresh-cut hay.