candles on a dark rainy day

Nights, by the light of whatever would burn:
tallow, tinder and the silken rope
of wick that burns slow, slow
we wove the baskets from the long gold strands
of wheat that were another silk: worm soul
spun the one, yellow seed in the dark soil, the other.

—from Without Regret, by Eleanor Wilner

Our wet season is winding up, but we are getting a few days of hard, straight-down, heavy-as-lead rain, as a kind of encore before the monsoon trough relinquishes it’s hold on the weather. Soon it will be winter in Australia—cold down Sydney-way, yes, but it’s a fantastic time to be in the tropical North. Everyone in Darwin is looking forward to the change of season.

One recent morning was so dark and wet and miserable that I lit a few tapers…not so much to see by, but because I needed the emotional warmth, the flickering energy and golden color of those nibs of flame. Candles are a great comfort to me…I love the way they send shadows dancing around a dark room, and I can sit and stare at them for hours. My mom was a candle maker for many years…she didn’t make everyday taper candles, but one-of-a-kind art candles—tall, heavy pillars of translucent wax which glowed from within, revealing trapped dried flowers and fern tendrils curling inside the wax when lit. Her candles were widely exhibited, pricey, and sold to collectors…

But that didn’t stop my mother from using them as everyday candles in our home; she loved the 8-hour scheduled blackouts that the government instituted, for one year, in an attempt to cut down on national power expenses. She would come in from her workshop with armfuls of candles, and light them all. There were candles everywhere in the house on those nights—fifty of them, standing in groups of three or five, sitting on every piece of furniture, shining down from high ledges, throwing their light far up into the wooden beams of the pitched roof. The house looked like a medieval chapel, it was magical.

And there’s a teensy bit of the candlemaker passed down to me, too, because I spent many hours sitting with my mother in her workshop…it was where we had most of our mother-daughter talks. I even did some work for her, when she was swamped with orders, so I have the rudiments of candle making. Maybe someday I’ll do that for a spell.

This post was a bit random…just a bit of blather and procrastination before I get to work on some sewing projects I swore I’d finish today. 🙂


6 thoughts on “Candles…

  1. So that’s where your beautiful spirit illuminates from! Your story made me feel like I had just walked into a sweet dream.

    I met an old candle maker in a small town in Quebec one year. He lived in a tiny basement apartment carved out of rock. His little hovel, heated by electric frying pans melting wax, was a warm reprieve from the bone chilling winter outside. We crossed paths with him by accident and he invited us in to see his work. Oh what a happy accident. He was a mad hatter, he couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak French, yet we carried on a touching conversation through the expressions in our eyes. He had even painted his damp basement walls in colorful wax drawings. It made me cry.


    1. Ah, thanks for sharing that story, Dana, amazing what can and does happen in real life, sometimes the scenes are straight out of a surrealist novel. (Hmm, I am using the word surreal too often this morning, thanks to that Do You Remember video on your blog… 😀 Man was that weird and wonderful!


  2. While the weather in Houston has not been very winter like, it has been gray, gray, gray and mornings are dark. I wish I’d thought to light candles. I love just thinking about it and will think of you when I do it next gray, dark morning.


    1. Oh wow, you’ll think of me when you light candles! And on the other side of the globe, I will sprout a halo, a double chin, and a fat Italian infant in my arms… The Madonna of the Mangroves *laughing* Candles are magical, I don’t know why. So happy you enjoyed the post! Have a lovely day, Lulu. 🙂


  3. What a beautiful post. You capture perfectly the coming on of winter, and your words are just as beautiful as Wilner’s. (I’d actually never read her work, and am very glad you’ve introduced me.)


    1. I do? *stunned* Thank you! I can’t believe I captured the coming of winter, I’ve never seen a winter in person, I know I’m really missing something, but I’m scared of the cold. Someday I hope to experience a real winter. Wilner’s lines just spoke to me that morning…the shadows and light in them, it was how I felt at the time.


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