I wasn’t sure if I would see her again at the market—it had been over a year since last time. But there she was, with her table of tea bowls and pottery.
Pottery is one of the great achievements of human culture. We take it for granted now, but it’s an essential technology.
I am pure joy. I am touching all the tea bowls.
“Hi, Kazuko!” She stops and wonders why I know her name, then she starts to remember. “We met last year.”
I make the smallest of small talk. I ask about one of the pieces—it looks like a round teapot with a flat top. She says it’s for Japanese calligraphy. I tell her I thought maybe it was a teapot and she laughs at me. “Imagine trying to make tea with that!” Then she whispers to let me in on a joke, “Some people think it’s for soy sauce.”
One of the tea bowls… I can’t stop looking at it. It reminds me of the famous “Twilight” tea bowl. Similar color, similar texture. Both priceless to me. I submit to its call and I buy it.
She points to a navy blue tray, an organic shape living on the table. “Do you like this?” “Yes it’s beautiful.” “I give it away. I’d rather give things to people I know.” I’m in shock. Gifts are multiplicities. Giving it away returns it in an exponent. Farmers’ markets are gift centers of the community, a spinning center of gift economy. Whitman said, “I am large. I contain multitudes.” In this gift holds the entire force of care and bonds of the entire community.
I thank her, of course. I wait for the center to spin again and for us to cross paths in unknown futures.
Walking home, we see two flowers carved in the stone above a window. A detail of home that we never noticed before. Cycles of community marked by flowers and stone, gifts of enthusiasm and discovery.
Published 1 July 2017
Kevin McGillivray is a web developer, writer, and teacher from Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, mindfulness, code, and tea.