Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Painful pruning...

I'm waiting for a friend at a local gas station. A beautiful tree next to me has large oval leaves with an incredibly fabric-like crinkle to them. There are vines growing around the root of the tree, bursting from the cement that surrounds it and I just noticed that there are grapes hanging from these vines. The land is prolific!

I love to go for runs and take long walks. There are endless directions for my expeditions around the Masia (the term for a cluster of houses). I usually end up in groves of almonds or olives where the earth is churned up regularly by local farmers. This loosens the dense clay and rock around the trees and rids the tree of its competitions -- weeds. The trees all have curious growth patterns very carefully monitored (or in some cases not so carefully) by the farmers. Branches are pruned so that the nutrients can flow well to the fruits. Each tree has branches that reach out, droop down, and splay back up with the fruits popping out all over. Its interesting to think about the process of trimming off fresh, healthy growth in order to achieve more fruits in the future. That takes a serious amount of trust in the process and foresight.

Last week Seth introduced me to his way of making pitchers. They are rounded bodies with taller, straighter necks than I'm used to. After watching him throw once I sat down to my second teacher, the wheel. Well, I spent the day with these blasted forms and had three mediocre ones to show for it by the end. I was so frustrated and disappointed that once Seth left the studio I sat down on one of the rickety old chairs (that almost toppled) and cried pitiful tears. All work has its frustrating days and art is no different. I had run out of steam completely.

I was being pruned. Painfully and laboriously. I had mentioned to Seth that I was having a hard time. He merely said to keep throwing and there would eventually be that moment of light ... hopefully. I just stood there with my eyebrows raised and mouth open. That was it.

So, I threw more. I threw smaller versions at Seth's suggestion and then upped the weight as I felt more comfortable. Yesterday I threw some. I asked Seth, who isn't one to come checking up on me, to come look. My form was a bit rounder than his but echoed the idea quite well. I was ready for his short comment on what was wrong, ready for a good pruning but got almonds instead! He said thoughtfully, yes, yes thats quite nice. Different but rather nice. Maybe that will be the new Albadas (the name of his casa) syle.

It was brief and not much but it was growth. My eyes popped and heart fluttered. I wonder if thats how the trees feel as the almonds finally emerge?


  1. Sarah,
    I really enjoy your blog and am glad that you continue with it while in Spain! Sounds like you a learning a lot and experiencing much! Sounds like you are well on your way to discovering what you will do with your life. Take care and savor this experience! Kathy

  2. Congratulations! Do you know why the Biosphere experiment failed? The trees couldn't survive. Do you know why? Because there was no wind. Without wind to sway and push at the top, the tree didn't feel threatened, so the roots didn't go deep enough. So my little grasshopper, the tossing of the storm is what produces the healthy crop. I'm proud of you for persevering! And for sharing the tough moments as well as the positive!

  3. Loving your posts, keep em coming. Any pictures you can send or link to? A Picassa album?

  4. Hello Sarah Virginia(or should I say Sarah Spain?) I really love reading your posts, and check them quite often. I've posted a few times, but I must be hitting the wrong key, I never see them posted. I'm trying again! You have such a wonderful opportunity and it sounds like you are learning so much, sometimes more about yourself than the pots. Which is usually the case isn't it? I know you have few opportunities to write but if you find you some time, please send me a note, tell me how you're doing!!!!

  5. Kathy, I´m just glad i can get internet access! I only can get to it once a week or so (what a different life!!) but at least I have some. I am in Madrid right now and have fast, easy access internet for two days... wooohoo!

    SouthLakesMom, thats really interesting! and thanks for the encouragement.

    TC, check out the slideshows I was just able to link on the right hand column. Thanks to the fast internet connection for a brief interlude in my travels.