We went back to the pottery studio in the woods.
We visited it last year, brakes squealing and a little gravel spewing as we noticed the carved wooden sign by the rural Florida road a moment late to make the turn quietly. The lane flanked by two posts topped with large, boldly-shaped baked clay finials.
This year we found the lane more easily. Down, down, down we drove coming face to face with the potter’s car blocking our way, he on his way out to collect his mail by the road. He backed up to a wider place, let our car go past, and then turned expertly in the narrow dirt track to follow us back to the studio.
We got out of our car- Yes, this was the place we remembered. A garden of ferns and astilbe and whimsical clay figurines. Quotations carved into wooden signs. Clay wind chimes and bells hanging from branches. The narrow porch and wide steps to the studio. But where was the old, blind dog, who last year had been sleeping there?
Wandering inside amongst the old potter’s mustard, gray and dirt-colored wares, I see a pie plate, a bowl, a platter. Also a giant upraised hand, a gristled elf, ancient turtle. On large pieces there are designs painted in glaze like Asian characters of an extinct language no one can read.
Where is the old dog, who should be click-clacking slowly amongst the shelves? I wonder if I can ask.
I choose two small basket-like pots, with elegant curved bamboo handles. One for my friend who is feeding our cats while we are on this trip, one for myself. While I pay (cash only- I had forgotten this anti-establishment quirk. We pull out our wallets and come up with it together between us)- Where is the old dog, who should be sitting on its haunches besides the potter on his stool at the cash box?
I decide to say; I remember your sweet dog from our visit a year ago.
Yes, the potter said, he died. I buried him in the garden out back. A pause, then he continued-I buried him in my bedspread. And then- so he would be wrapped in my smell.
I picture the bed naked, no comforter. I feel the digging of the hole, that needed to be extra wide and deep. I imagine the blind dog’s spirit transitioning, consoled by the smell/oil/ molecules, wrapped in the presence of love.