Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ancient Hairlines, Part II

As I said, a cracked old man has only one option for the future -- which is to get worse.

I mean, a cracked old crock has.

You can use the lower portions of a crock, if it has a hairline in the upper portions, when making wine or beer -- but while you do so you will be haunted vaguely by thoughts of the future, when that hairline must inevitably grow larger.

A stoneware crock in use for winemaking is not a static eye-pleaser in the parlor corner but an active piece of necessary equipment. If it plays a part in the winemaking life, it has no fixed place, physically, in the home. It moves from place to place. It receives cleaning and sterilizings, in the sink or bathtub. It may feel the stirrings-around of a wooden spoon, or the pressing force of hands, masher or muddler, in crushing fruit. The crock will be lifted, turned on its side, upended. It will be carried, tipped, shelved.

The five-gallon Western stoneware crock I bought last summer in a local auction has a hairline, as it happens. In the dirty state the crock was in when I bid on it, I never saw the crack -- which is an extra-fine hairline: "Hardly a crack at all," I can hear a collector say. Fortunately, this crack is located on the quite-fat rim; and the crock has proved itself serviceable during the making of a fair amount of wine and beer already. In fact today, as I am working on this posting, I happen to be sterilizing it for the batch of beer Martha is starting this rainy afternoon.

Cheers ...

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