In the last light of dusk, as a soft rain considered its possibilities, I walked up the hill to my studio with McKinley. Jay, our niece Emily, our intern Andy, and our neighbor L, were already up there, and had been working for most of the day installing the custom, handmade woodstove named Hot Mama into my studio. Inside everyone stood around the corner where the woodstove stood, a black pipe rising up and disappearing neatly into the wall. Emily had gathered a pile of twigs and sticks in the belly of the stove, and McKinley, reading my mind, announced that I should light the first fire.
And so I did. The sharp strike of a match brought forth the burst of flame that licked hungrily at the wood. There was no second match. The fire grew and its warmth radiated to our skin as we stood around it, admiring its beauty. Denali turned off the lamps, and the apple-shaped window of mica glowed red in the darkness.
There is no small significance to this fire. So many people have stood around me and supported my creative life. Carl Davidt made this stove for me, so inexpensively as to be considered a gift. He is a metal sculptor who has been a good friend for many years, and I can feel the love that went into this stove. Emily, Andy, and neighbor L, have put in many hours helping out around Berrytown. But my husband’s support has been unwavering and his encouragement consistent. Watching that apple glow, feeling the warmth from the fire, my own creative fire was rekindled. So many times assorted frustrations have given me an excuse to back away from my creative life. Now, with all the support and love warming up my studio, I don’t think I can do that anymore. The space swirled with possibilities and mingled with the smoke that had escaped from the door of the stove. I breathed it all in.