If Okanogan County were to elect an official county bird, I would vote for the quail. I understand this quirky little bird is not native to the county, but then neither am I. With its bouncy topknot, woo-hoo call, and clumsy strut the beloved quail is frequently found in the work of local artists. Some of my favorite quail representations are in the pottery of the late Everett Lynch (1898-1988).
A retired U.S. Forest Service district ranger, Everett and his wife Dorothy, a weaver, were giants in the local arts and crafts scene. I felt privileged to interview them not long after I moved here. I always feel privileged to interview artists of note, and I was already familiar with Everett’s work. One of our wedding gifts was a covered dish created by him, inscribed “for John + Mary.” (top shelf of photo) Since then I’ve acquired quite a bit of Lynch pottery thanks to the sharp eye of my antiquer friend, Harley, who occasionally finds his work at (gasp) yard sales.
I believe Everett made his pottery not only to be admired but to be used. That, of course, comes with the risk of breakage and chipping. I’m willing to take the risk in exchange for the simple joy of holding and using art in every day life. Yet when I broke the beautiful brown bowl with quail design (top shelf, right), I was appalled. It had been one of my favorites. It was a clean break, though, right down the center. I glued the two pieces together and continue to use the bowl for late night popcorn.
That’s the point of collecting and keeping stuff. It’s a show of appreciation and, at the same time, an acknowledgement that all things material are in some sense fragile, temporary, or in a temporary form. All our stuff will eventually break, shatter, erode, melt, fade, rot, or evolve into something else. As do we.
(To celebrate my 75th birthday this month, I’m posting daily stories about the stuff I’ve acquired over a lifetime and can’t let go of. I invite you to consider the stories attached to the stuff you treasure—maybe even share them.)