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a mug is a mug

updated sun 23 apr 00


Carrie or Peter Jacobson on sat 22 apr 00

I obviously don't have enough to do here in Maine (where the ground is white
with 3 inches of new snow, jiminy christmas), without the burden of an
impossible day job, and with no place yet to throw.

So I've been thinking lots about mugs. I am a habitual, constant
coffee-drinker. Generally, I always have a cup going, hi-test or decaf, hot
or tepid, pretty much all day and into the evening. It never disturbs my
sleep or makes me feel poorly.

Friday, I knocked my coffee cup over twice. Luckily, I drink it black and
with no sugar, so the damage was minimal. But I began looking at it, my cup.
It's a lovely cup, but the base is a tad too small, the lip a hair too wide,
and the handle an ounce too heavy for ideal balance. It's a tippy cup, one I
should use at home, not in the car, not at work.

In the car, I put coffee cups on my dashboard. So they must fit, (Honda
Civic... dash is maybe 4 or 5 inches wide... the wide-bottomed nonspill mugs
do not fit on it), they must not slide, and the must tend not to tip. They
must not be too flared, either, or the coffee will cool more quickly than I
like. They must not be too finely thrown, either, for the same reason.

Beyond those qualities, there is the gift of intimacy. This cup is the first
thing to touch my lips in the morning. I wrap my hands around it, warm my
palms, warm my face, bring it with me through the still-dark house to read
email, read clayart, watch the sun come up.

A potter's fingers touched this cup's lip, this lip that touches my lip. A
potter's hands cradled this mug where my palms meet its surface. This fit a
potter's grasp, filled an imagination, was loved -- perhaps for just a
moment, but it was a moment that counted.

I like to see all of this as well as know it. I like to feel it. Finger
marks, handprints, a sign of that mug's maker, a bridge pressed in clay
between the potter's fingers and mine, there is an intimacy here that I find
pleasing, reassuring, human.