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A Box of Rocks

Candlemaker’s Diary Week 12

Greetings from semi-quarantine, a borderless mental landscape, or “picnic area” as the Mad Scientist would have it. We try to add features to this blank terrain by creating project deadlines for ourselves, telling each other about them, and then not doing them. One of the things your writer is not doing is making candles–not a hard thing to avoid, since my wax kettle emptied itself over the tabletop while we were sleeping upstairs a few weeks ago. While cleaning up the table, stool, and floor today I noticed a tray of my favorite geode candle holders sitting stolidly in the midst of a garden of fancy soaps. Unlike soaps and candles, I noted, they do not degrade, lose their scent, or melt onto the floor. In the absence of flowers, they can lend esthetic charm to a garden or tabletop, see pic. 

My mum knew this intuitively, having spent the first five years of her marriage in pre-war Japan, returning to England ahead of war with a trunk of silk kimonos and lacquer tableware–and a fluency in “women’s Japanese” that stunned the Japanese restaurant industry for the next sixty years. Her sense of esthetic simplicity served her well in times when nothing pretty or frivolous was to be had. I remember one day during the London Blackout (I was four and never missed a thing) she was readying the house for a dinner party and found herself without flowers for the table. She climbed down to the coal cellar—I quietly followed. There she selected the biggest, blackest, shiniest piece of anthracite, carried it to the dining room, and placed it on a shallow silver flower bowl. Her centerpiece was the hit of the evening, a veritable “rock star” (couldn’t help it). 

So our rocks sit on their tray, whiling away the quarantine in supreme indifference. A Himalayan salt tea-light holder has sidled into the pic, claiming that it, too, is a rock. Yes, but we’ll save that for another day.

Wishing you love and light, Wilda

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