The Star-Herald

An Eeyore cure

The so-called Dog Days of August historically referred to an apparent increase in mad dogs during the hottest part of summer.  Before the rabies virus was identified, blaming the heat seemed reasonable.

Even today, knowing what we know, we might attribute what can only be described as an Eeyore mind frame to August’s dog-day assault of heat and humidity.  Livestock wander in aimless circles searching for a scrap of green, designs of pasture rotation stymied by drought. Late season crops stall out half-sized with no regular rain to plump up their roots, shoots, and fruits.  We drag hoses from row to row, bed to bed, picturing the dreaded “milkshake slurp” should we dredge the bottom of the well. It is hard not to feel a bit doomy and gloomy as we peel off sticky, wet shirts and jeans turned crusty from sweat.

“Oh, fine.  I understand.  I probably did something to deserve it.”

Okay, Eeyore.  But the Presque Isle Farmers Market at Riverside is offering an antidote.  

PIFM’s solution to heat-induced madness is Wendy Walsh, the creative force behind W2 (W squared).  Her playful math-based response to alliterative nomenclature is only the beginning.  Wendy frees herself to explore combinations of stains, particles of colored glass, different glaze treatments, and a steady design hand to complement her artistic eye.  The result is a collection of handmade ceramic items both useful and decorative. Her creations are adorned with cheerful sea creatures, colorful balloons, plants familiar to Aroostook County residents and even impressions from them … best use of a burdock ever.

Customers quickly realize Wendy is “just” a kind-hearted, cheerful woman with a positive mind frame, well able to make the best of things, and highly willing to share these traits.  With wide eyes and little irony, she tells of her development as a ceramics artist. It began with selecting introductory ceramics class to fulfill the art requirement for her teaching degree from UMPI.  The random ceramics course ultimately led to a sense of personal satisfaction and adventure that continued to grow past graduation and through 2 or 3 permutations as a math instructor.

Wendy admits struggles and frustration to get past her innate perfectionism as she describes nearly 40 attempts needed to draw up a vase shape to its required height in her first class.  She recounts learning to just relax and let the clay have its way. Then she points out an ever-so-clever teapot of her own design that wound up with the handle installed upside-down when she experimented with a fix to its tendency to fold up on itself before firing. The piece remains symbolic of her learned acceptance of serendipity in her art and it makes her laugh.  

Smiles, stories and one-of-a-kind creativity are included at no extra charge and offer a great antidote to an Eeyore frame of mind this August.  W2 and other talented crafters sell their wares under or near the pavilion at Riverside through three seasons of Saturdays between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The Presque Isle Farmers’ Market president for the 2018 season is Deena Albert-Parks of Chops Ahoy Farm in Woodland. For information about participating or visiting the market, contact her at hoctrainer@aol.com.

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