Sylvie ducked under the portico just in time. The sky opened up, sending raindrops like so many ball bearings pounding down on the metal roof. Sylvie turned briefly to watch the torrent as it battered a nearby flower bed, bounced off of pavement, and almost instantly transformed the street into a river.
Then Sylvie turned back toward the door and started to knock. But the door swung open as she knocked. Though Sylvie hadn’t noticed, the door was already ever-so-slightly ajar before she ever knocked.
“Mr Hively? …….. Doug?” Sylvie called through the opening. When she got no reply she slowly pushed the door open far enough to look inside. In the dark that accompanied the storm, all that illuminated the small room was a single incandescent shop light. The light was the kind with a plain metal shade at the end of a cable that suspended it from the ceiling. It cast its cone of warm light directly over a large wood-framed kick wheel that sat along the south wall. This was the throwing room – the room where Sylvie had been taking pottery lessons for the past year-and-a-half with Mr. Hively -- one of the west coast’s many talented potters. But Mr. Hively was nowhere to be seen.
Sylvie cautiously walked in. She looked around the room one more time, and then walked over to where the lamp’s single bulb cast its glow. There on the work table of the kick wheel, Sylvie saw this note, pierced through and held in place by a single potter’s needle. The note read:
Use the kick wheel today
Throw a shelf of simple 8 inch cylinders
Use three pounds of clay.
Keep them narrow.
Next, neck the cylinders into bottles.
How odd. Sylvie plucked the needle from the tabletop, picked up the note and re-read it. The instructions were unusual because…. well, because that’s just not how Mr. Hively usually did things. Usually, if he wasn’t here when she arrived he just had her go over what she had been working on over the past week.
“Oh well”, thought Sylvie, and with resignation she hung her jacket on the back of a wooden chair, walked over to the clay pile, grabbed a bag of clay and started measuring and weighing the project’s clay. Next, from a nearby shop sink she filled a plastic gallon bucket with warm water for her hands.
Preparing the clay was exercise enough so that any chill she’d felt from the stormy weather outside was long gone. Still, the warm water on her hands felt good. And as she got into the kicking rhythm, and felt the spinning clay beneath her hands, Sylvie was soon lost in the mesmerizing activity.
What had first drawn Sylvie to pottery was a simple wish; Sylvie wanted to make her own place setting. Well, it seemed a simple wish at the time. She learned. It wasn’t as easy as she thought. But she did learn. And she did make that first place setting. And a second. And pitchers, and bowls, and vases, and…
It may have been the desire to make her own dishes that sparked her interest, but it was that first feel of clay spinning beneath her hands that really hooked her. Took her by surprise really. It was an unexpected seduction.
And as she worked her way through the fourth and fifth bottles -- half filling the shelf -- that feeling of the first time feeling spinning clay in her hands came rushing back. It always did.