January passed by quickly. We had a lot of rain here in Laceyville, Pennsylvania, which made the ground muddy. We also experienced one cold snap that was enough to freeze over ponds and lakes, and some parts of the river, making it possible for people to go ice fishing. During the short winter days, I started making pots in the darkness of my basement, where I had to turn on the propane heater because it felt cold. I spent some of that time writing handwritten letters as part of the pen pal club, which helped me slow down and interact with people in a therapeutic way that was different from posting on Facebook.
January in the Rain
I attended a wine festival at the Steam Town Mall in Scranton, PA, where I helped my friend Jill of Viva Villa Farm sell goat soap. I learned a lot from her direct marketing techniques and realized I needed to work on my own marketing skills, as I tend to just stand and smile. I also started the Valentine Vase run, which involved changing the concept a few times to get the desired look. Although some may not show their work in the early stages because things change so much throughout the process, I find it fun to work through the whole process, from sketching in my drawing book to the finished product from the kiln.
I am preparing for the Spring show on the local Bunny Trail, which takes place on March 15th -17th, 2024. I would like to work out some themes and also do a candle run and the long-awaited baking dishes that people have been asking for. If you have any suggestions on something you might like to see in the lineup, let me know, and I’ll try to work in a few pieces. One of my big goals is to make up berry bowls. I have them all designed, but I just need to do the mockups and prototypes. I also hope to put out some very large beer mugs, and a plate run is definitely in the making.
Another big project on my list is to get the pad put in for the kiln. I hope to start the build when the weather breaks and it’s warmer to work outside. I need to be sure things do not freeze at night so the mortar doesn’t freeze before the first firing. I still need to decide whether the kiln should go back or out front. Out front by the pottery shed would be great, but the kiln will need to be fired for 24 hours, and I don’t want the noise of the kiln and people firing it to disturb my next-door neighbor. I try to get along with folks and be a good community member, and I don’t want people to complain about the noise.
The pottery work that I do, along with the support of my customers, allows me to give back to the community. I have been able to relieve some stress for a few single mothers and spread joy to those feeling down and having a tough time. Some just needed encouragement and felt like they would be missed if they were gone, so I gave them a “hug mug” or a few dollars to get their nails done or other self-care things to relax. Life can be tough at times, and it can help to know that someone in the world thought of you and reached out to help relieve the struggle a little. That’s why I believe the work I do here matters, and it’s made for people who care to help others and give back with responsible generosity and gratitude.
As the middle of January came around, Back Road Maple tapped their trees and started boiling sap to make the yearly batch of maple syrup. Ona’s This & That Shop made a few more trips to Amish County for furniture, and start-up plans were being made at Jayne’s Orchard in hopes of a good Spring yield of apple blossoms. Over on the Clapper Farm, Rusty and Timmy Rutt hoped for Spring too. It was Groundhog Day, and they knew where a good hole was, but they just needed to figure out a way to get the woodchuck to show to know how fast Spring would get here. They were tired of all the mud, and the farm was looking dug up with ruts. As a matter of fact, the mud was so bad in front of the barn that the milk truck almost got stuck.
“Do you see anything yet?” Rusty asked his brother Timmy, who was scanning the cow pasture with binoculars.
“No, not yet, but just give it some time. I’ve put all kinds of treats out for that woodchuck. He’ll come out. I saw him run out and back yesterday,” replied Timmy.
“Then what are we doing out here today for? He might have seen his shadow yesterday and ran back so it’s six more weeks of winter,” said Rusty with a grin.
”Because yesterday was not Groundhog Day. Today is Rusty. Now, leave me alone, please. Can’t you see I’m doing something?”
“Well, it might not work, Timmy. That’s a woodchuck, not a groundhog. The name says it all. Groundhog Day requires a groundhog, not a woodchuck,” Rusty pointed out.
“Please, Rusty. It’s the same thing. Punxsutawney Phil is a woodchuck, they just don’t know it yet,” Timmy retorted.
“I don’t know, Timmy. I think those big-city scientists might know what they’re talking about. I bet Punxsutawney is the scientific name for a groundhog,” Rusty argued.
”No, it’s the name of the town, Rusty, you moron. Besides, you can’t even read the word Punxsutawney, let alone know if it was scientific or not. Now, just be quiet, or I’ll miss the whole thing.” said Timmy, putting the binoculars back up to his eyes.
Rusty sat on a rock and unrolled the pack of smokes he had in the front pocket of his flannel shirt. He lightly tapped the pack in his hand before pulling one out and lighting up. He loved to needle his brother. Timmy could be a great source of entertainment. You just had to make him mad.
”Pun-xsu-tawn-eeeeey.” Rusty sounded out smiling.
”Dammit Rusty, If I miss this woodchuck coming out of the hole because you’re messing around being stupid, I swear I’ll give you a good hurting. Now shut up or git!”
”Well, apparently, those binoculars aren’t working very well because I can see that woodchuck from here, Timmy. Sure you ain’t looking through them backwards?” said Rusty, laughing.
”I’m going to tell you one more time, Rusty. If you don’t stop, we both are going to have a real bad time, but you, the worst. Got it?” scolded Rusty.
At that, Rusty tossed the binoculars at Timmy and tackled him, and both men were rolling and wrestling in the wet mud of Clapper farm cow pasture. Since Rusty was a bit bigger and somewhat stronger than his brother, he was able to get Timmy in a headlock and hold him down. A little brown head looked out of the hole far off down the field, and a little nose wiggled. And as Rusty and Timmy rolled and wrestled in the muddy grass, a woodchuck nibbled on some carrots left out for him. The sun went behind a cloud, casting a shadow over the field by the apple tree near the woodchuck hole. And that’s how we know Spring will come early.
Now, there may not be a Rusty or Timmy Rutt, or even a woodchuck hole out in the Clapper pasture. But somewhere, someone is being short as a late winter’s day, with one another, and all we can hope for is some relief with Spring. This is my town and my story. So I get to tell it how I like.
Creek Road Pottery L.L.C.
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