A Note from the Editor:
Gorgeous lighting reminds me that the artists and craftspeople whose work fills this magazine often inspire awe in me—and joy.
One autumn when I was in my early 20s, I was within five pounds of what the charts said was my ideal weight, a very nice number with a zero in the middle. I was determined to reach it. Every day I ran along Prospect Park to Grand Army Plaza, around the arch and back; I did calisthenics on the bedroom rug; I ate less and less as weeks went by. And I kept getting sick—with headaches, recurrent colds. I blurted my frustration to the elderly doctor who was giving me my allergy shots at half price. He pinched my middle—“no fat”—and shook his head in avuncular disapproval. He said, “Show me your hands.” I held one up. “See here,” he said. “Those are peasant hands. You will never be skinny, so stop making yourself sick.”
Mine are peasant hands, from the Irish potato farmers or the Slovak milkmaids, or both. (I’m inordinately fond of cabbage and whiskey, as you might imagine.) With these hands, I have never done anything fine. It’s okay. I chop celery with speed and power and pat a delicious meatloaf; making my stubby fingers black with earth, I’ll make an herb garden outgrow its plot. I can hoist toddlers and grocery bags, gesticulate alarmingly as I talk, and type a blue streak. But I cannot play the piano, or apply wax to a Ukrainian Easter egg, embroider, or cut a dovetail with anything approaching competence.
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The artists and craftspeople whose work fills our magazines often inspire awe in me. But I’m delighted to say that I don’t feel envious. When I see their work, my joy feels like the contentment of a full tummy, and I feel a kind of gratitude. I meet talented people at shows and seminars, and they’re normal enough folks. We talk and laugh. Then I see them in context with their skilful and sensuous work: hand-painted clay, sculpted chair, filigreed lamp, masterful color and pattern. I get tongue-tied. Really, what does a peasant say to a god?
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