Waiting to Fall

It rained yesterday.

Hadn't had more than a mist all summer, heat and smoke in the air, and suddenly, it smells clean. It's cooler, not just overnight, but in the daytime too. Highs in the low 70s. Acorns on the driveway. Soon I'll be picking apples from the Cox's Orange Pippin to replace the summer Gravensteins and mystery apples from the Lutheran Church's tree in the bottom of the fridge.

I could get used to this fall stuff.

I only did two summer shows this year, Roseburg in June and Anacortes in August, and both were record-breakers; Anacortes in fact the best show I've done in my entire thirty years as Off Center Ceramics. So I'm not regretting skipping Corvallis Fall Festival in September. Clay Fest is coming up in mid-October, Clayfolk in early November. Fall is looking just as full as summer was.

So I've been busy in the studio, making and trimming pots. Glazing and decorating, even loading a kiln to fire on Labor Day. (Being your own boss can be over-rated...) Trying to get a head start on the busiest part of the year.

Teetering on the Edge

After an entire summer anticipating, the Park Blocks construction finally hit my corner a week ago. I wound up taking the weekend off to glaze for my next firing, but was back again Labor Day weekend, though slightly relocated. Sonia found me a vacant space in 353, just four spaces east of my regular location. I don't expect construction to be done for at least a month, so I'll be moving around, but hope to be in the same general neighborhood as much as I can.

Eighth Street is a little more passable these days, but Oak is still torn up and restricted to one lane. Parking is also restricted, so for now, my best advice is still to park for free at the OverPark on 10th and Oak and walk the two blocks down to Market.

Pattern of the Month:


I was on my way home one evening at dusk from a Local Clay/Clay Fest meeting. It was out at Rhoda's, Flashpoint Pottery, in the wilds east of I-5, between Harrisburg and Brownsville, down a winding country road. Karen, the Clay Fest chair, and I were carpooling, almost back to the Interstate when I noticed a herd of large animals grazing in a field off to my right. Cows, probably. There's a lot of beef raised down on this end of the Willamette Valley, including a guy closer to Coburg with Texas Longhorns.

Look again, said Karen. I did a double-take.

It was a herd of elk.

I'd seen them before, even this close to the car. When I first came out to Oregon for grad school, I stopped to visit a college friend in the San Francisco bay area, then headed up the Coast Highway to Oregon. Somewhere between Muir Woods--which were incredible--and Grants Pass, there was a viewing area you could pull off, and, just on the other side of a rail fence, watch a herd of elk grazing in an open meadow.

But this felt different, somehow. The last time felt managed, safe. The fence, the coming attraction signs on the highway, a Park Service radio channel you could tune in for more elk facts. This, on the other hand, was a surprise: pale, huge figures looming out of the dusk, right along side the road. You don't expect to find Ice-Age megafauna a quarter mile from a major Interstate Highway.

I later found out this was a resident herd of Roosevelt Elk that ranges the central valley. Potter friends told how they'd find them on their front lawn all the time, eating windfall apples, over by Triangle Lake. Maybe so, but I've I've been down that road many times since, and never seen them again.

It was a magic moment.

I came back to that memory recently, when a long-time patron asked for elk painted on a stew mug set. I'd tried, unsuccessfully, before, but I've painted a lot of animals, developed some skill, since then. I did her mugs, also some dinner plates, pie plates, tall mugs, with a bull elk, in full bugle. I like how they turned out.

So have you herd? The elk are back!

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