Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Have Fairy Potters Been in My Garden? A Wonder From One of God's Little Creatures
One of my earliest collections, when I was a little kid, was miniature pitchers. The two white porcelain ones near the front of this photo were in our little shoebox of playthings at Big Grandmother's house from my tiniest days. One is actually a doll's sugar bowl but it had lost one handle long before I came along. The dark pewter one just behind them (and in front of the Holy Bible) was the first antique I bought for myself, when I was about 9. It is very old, and until Sunday was the smallest of miniature pots in my collection.
On Sunday, I added a new pot, so tiny and fragile that it is protected in the clear glass jar to the right of the peach pit basket.
Let's open the jar and see. It doesn't look like much in there, does it?
Ah. That's better. It looks for all the world like the seed pots that studio potters were so fond of in the 1970s. Except it is so tiny it makes a penny look large.
I found this little pot a couple of weeks ago. On a geranium leaf in the side yard!
A tiny mud pot, as round as one coil-built of clay, tapering to a slender neck and finished off with oh so thin and fragile flaring rim.
At the time I found it, the neck was still open, as though it were a vase waiting for a flower. But I knew that it wasn't, even though I'd never seen this before. So finely made that it might be at home with one of Rose Cabat's Feelie Pots, this was not made by human hands.
It was, instead, the home of a tiny creature. When I went back to check on it a few days later, the hole in the neck had been sealed up. So I just waited.
On Sunday, the side of the vase had been broken open and the small creature had moved on to the next phase of its life. So I carefully picked up the tiny pot and brought it inside.
With the opening in the side, it now looks something like the crockery bottle birdhouses that the Prichards' make at the Luling Icehouse Pottery ( They are a warm and friendly couple - we bought birdhouses from them for our gift shop when we lived on the coast ).
Wow I love the internet. I used to have an enormous library of references on all kinds of subjects, and it was a labor of love to spend hours searching through various volumes to try to find an answer. But sometimes I just didn't have the right book to find it. That's where Yahoo search and Texas A&M's amazing online resources come in.
In just a couple of minutes, I learned this little pot is made by the Potter Wasp as a cradle for its next generation. It's scientific name is (Order) Hymenoptera: (Species or Family) Vespidae: (subfamily) Eumeninae.
We've had blue-black mud daubers (aka dirt daubers) everywhere I've ever lived. They are a harmless - actually beneficial - wasp that does not sting so I leave them alone, but their houses are not very attractive.
The Potter Wasp is kinfolk to the dirt daubers, a small, solitary wasp that can sting but usually won't. It sounds like it keeps to itself, so maybe that's why I haven't seen it before.
From lightning bugs to butterflies to potter wasps, is it any wonder people once believed in fairies?
Pottery is one of the oldest arts of mankind. And throughout the Bible, God's relationship with man is referred to as that of The Potter to the clay. Even the anthropological history and linguistics identify Man with the clay, and God with The Potter.
The shared attributes of various creatures, even down to the need for a home, points to the maker's mark. Some creatures are more simple, some complex, but a single Creator.
The infinite variety of God's creatures is so amazing. There are wonders everywhere we look, if we pay attention.