Monday, May 17, 2010


Wood, given time and heat, creates ash. There is a large wood burning stove in the family room. The first time I saw it, I fell in love with it, the way it was shaped and had such presence in the room. At the bottom of the stove, there is a handle and a door. It opens up to a tray where the ashes are collected. They fall as the wood burns and collect in the tray. Then, as they tray becomes full the ash tray is removed and dumped outside. Ashes have been placed in the outside fire ring, the garden, and gravel driveway. The ash provides a good base for the fire ring. It can give and restore nutrients into the soil. As for the driveway, I was surprised at how well it held the gravel in during the spring melt. Even prepared ash can become something which is used to make art.

Sometimes life can feel the same way, as if everything is burning away and leaving only a messy pile of grey and black bits behind. The heat, while great during cold Iowa winters, is not so pleasant when we are walking through the fire. So, what can we learn from that? Ashes have purpose. When we are left with ashes, we now have new materials to make art with, to build up our loose gravel, and re-nourish the soil.
If you are left with a pile of ash, let’s prepare it and make art.