Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the scent of rain on dry earth...

This morning I awakened with the scent of rain on dry earth. After record spring rains, we descended into drought and protracted high temperatures. As a result, we've watered relentlessly for months to keep just a bit of green growing around the house. With a bit of soft ground here and a few healthy plants, we've been invaded by deer eating things they normally don't eat, and by armadillos marauding in the night in their search for grubs. Fortunately the oaks in the forest surrounding the house have deep roots and have faced extended drought before.

There are patterns in nature, and there are patterns in our lives and in human culture. The pendulum swings, from one extreme to the other. In the past 30 years we've pushed our children away from their hands, and urged our best and brightest into financial "service" industries where they've applied their inquisitive and inventive natures toward devising new financial products and schemes that have brought huge wealth to a few and have left the rest of the nation in tragic decline. That doesn't seem to be working for us. If those were our best and brightest and failed to alert others to the disastrous declines we faced, they have been measured and found lacking in the kind of character and intelligence that comes from hands-on learning.

But this morning I awakened to the scent of rain on dry earth. Have you smelled that before? It's a thing that you will remember and call to mind if you have ever felt the first drops of rain falling on parched earth.

Our nation has been through a long dry spell.

With the exception of these few of us, the hands are about as far from our attention as can be imagined. And yet, in our own work with wood, or in the arts, with tools, with instruments, with hands and minds, there is a scent in the air.

This morning in my wood shop I am inlaying small boxes. In the afternoon, I resume my instruction to 7th, 8th and 9th grade students in cutting dovetails.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous11:05 AM

    A word for the scent you describe is 'petrichor'. This word is not as old as I am, but it's such a distinctive scent, I have to agree it needed its own name.

  2. Thank you for such a nice post.

    Are you familiar with Change Makers in the U.K.?

    "Makers in craft and design activities have a huge potential to contribute to community development and social change. In the wake of the UK riots, this Facebook group – The Change Makers – has been formed to explore how craft can be a stronger and more focussed force for positive social change.

    Given the failure of our political parties to move beyond their predictable responses to the crisis, we aim to develop a “Makers’ Manifesto”. We want to draw attention to positive practical examples and set out the case for craft as a force for empowerment and hope. We have set up a further webpage - https://makingmanifesto.uservoice.com - to source ideas for the manifesto."

    I thought of you when I joined their group on facebook.

    Thank you for such an inspirational blog.