Michigan

Show & Tell & Raspberries

I saw them as soon as I pulled into the driveway, just back from my early morning appointment with the foot doc. They kept calling to me even after I hobbled into the house.

“Pick me, pick me quick,” each bright red berry begged, “before my fragile beauty fades and my perfect ripeness expires.”

So I strapped on my aircast as soon as the brief summer storm passed and gingerly made my way slightly uphill across the uneven lawn. Sun and raindrops were glistening on the clusters of plump ripe fruit, ruby gems urging me on as I picked all that I could reach without over-taxing my healing foot.

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As I pulled my berry bowls out of the pottery pantry, it occurred to me that you might enjoy a little show and tell.

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M-204 horizontally bisects northern Michigan’s picturesque Leelanau Peninsula. Just off M-204, almost exactly mid-way between Suttons Bay and Lake Leelanua is an easy to miss driveway that ends on a lawn graced with two small shacks and a barn.

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the pottery studio

To the right of the shacks, completely hidden by a stand of trees, is a house. In the house lives Karl Sporck, the artist and owner of Brisling Pottery.

On every trip up North, on our way to our beloved Leland and its beloved Fishtown, we pull into that beloved driveway.

Here’s how it almost always goes:

We pull in and no one is around.

The hub and I enter the larger of the two shacks, plates, platters, bowls, cream and sugar sets, etc. line the walls.  Hanging from the rafters are coffee mugs. Really cool coffee mugs.

We each choose a mug and then we choose a platter or bowl or two or three…

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Here’s the cool thing about the plates, platters, bowls…

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and even the undersides of some of the lids to the sugar jars:

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The pottery is beautiful, but it is those little inscriptions of history – those little time stamps – that keep us coming back.

And then, per the instructions on the main shack’s rustic table, we add up our items, figure in the tax and leave the money in the cash box.

Complete honor system.

Before leaving we take a quick peak into the smaller shack – the one that houses ceramic tiles of various sizes.

Almost always Karl appears from the stand of trees just as we are getting back into our car. We chat for a few minutes and I gush over his offerings.

We always leave a note with the cash, just in case, because sometimes we don’t see him at all.

Brisling Pottery was always one of the highlights of our trips up north.

And then one fateful visit, the pottery was gone! Gasp! The tile sign that used to adorn the smaller shack was moved to the entrance of the main shack.  Both shacks held nothing but tiles – mostly made by Karl’s son, a few carved walking sticks and a few wooden spoons.

I have no idea what to do with the spoon, but I thought it looked kinda' cool.

I have no idea what to do with the spoon, but I thought it looked kinda’ cool.

We looked around, bought a spoon or two and then our disappointed faces met with Karl’s outside.

Too many years bent over his pottery wheel had damaged his back.

It was the end of an era.

Last summer we stopped in, just to pay homage, and we were amazed to find a sparse selection of pottery pieces. Karl’s back was feeling better and he was back at the wheel!

I snatched up four small bowls.

Our June trip up north was canceled after I fell and broke my foot, but we are hoping to get up there in August.

And I’m hoping that Karl will be there, and that he will still have a few pieces left.

In the meantime, raspberries and ice cream for dessert.

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life

Gratefruit

I don’t charge a fee when I speak.  I usually receive an honorarium anyway, in appreciation, but not always.  When I am asked what an appropriate amount would be I reply, “Just send a thank you note.”

I have a drawer full of them.  The money I’ve been given has been spent.  But the notes are all still there.  They remind me of all the people I’ve met over the years – people God spoke to using my mouth.  People God loves.

I told God early on that I prefer to be paid in fruit.  Several years later, after speaking at a woman’s retreat in Virginia, I was.  Literally.  At the end of the weekend they presented me with a large basket of fruit.  Tucked among the apples and grapes was a large jar of local honey and some locally made peach preserves.

God and I smiled at one another as I received the gift.  I LOVED it!

I relayed that story to a group of women in a Bible study once.  One of the women in the group criticized me for not being grateful for the gift.  She completely missed my point.  Funny how we sometimes listen with prejudiced ears, project our stuff and our preconceived notions onto others.  Fail to ask for clarification.

I just smiled.

In a few weeks the hub and I get to celebrate with a living, breathing peach.  Joe was part of the young adult group that came to our house every other Sunday evening for dinner and Bible study.  He was a brand new believer and a sheer delight.   It was when we rented him our condo for several months that we saw fully what a fine young man he is – full of respect and integrity.  The last time we saw him was two years ago at his college graduation party.

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And now he is getting married.  On May 2 we will drive an hour to attend a couples shower.  And then in June we will head to Traverse City for his wedding.

My happy heart thanks you, Lord, for the privilege of meeting Joe when he was a babe in You.  For keeping the hub and I somewhat connected to him and allowing us to see his growth and all the fruit he will produce in his life.  For the honor of rejoicing with him as he embarks on marriage.  For the wonderful example he has seen in his parents.

We get to be witnesses to young, healthy, hearty, hopeful love.

Thank You, thank You for that.

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