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The House Pot

Palapas 

Lizy and I took a side trip to Palm Springs last September looking for a place to get married. We wanted our civil wedding to be something more than some bureaucratic exercise in some judge’s chamber in Los Angeles. We wanted to do it outside the city and briefly contemplated Las Vegas. Just as quickly we set our sites on Lake Tahoe, but as time went by the logistics of a quick wedding with our girls in tow made it more difficult.

As we entered Palm Springs we came upon the Visitors’ Center and got some information about the town. The lady behind the counter was a transplant from Australia and after four years here still hadn’t lost her accent. Lizy did ask her if there were any places to get married in town and quickly she gave her some pamphlet about the Enchanted Chapel. It was located right in the middle of downtown Palm Springs! Before we left she also mentioned that Palapas, a nursery on the south side of town, also had weddings.

Later that night, as we walked through the downtown streets, we did manage to find the Enchanted Chapel. The pastor, a rotund figure dressed in polyester pants and a coat that seemed to have shrunk on him, sporting a mal-adjusted and rather obvious toupee, met us. His greatest offering was a collection of silk flowers that could be used for decoration of his in-door/out-door wedding facility. We feigned interest, took his literature, and left. The next day after a late breakfast we decided to check out the nursery.

We parked the car on a gravel parking lot under the shade of huge leafy trees. The entrance was a vivid, verdant tunnel with hanging and potted greenery and colorful flowers. Impressed as we were going in, nothing prepared us for the inside of the nursery.

Once through the entrance, to the right, was an art gallery. Displayed were art works of all types; pottery, paintings, carvings, sculptures, and flower arrangements--an eclectic collection indeed. As we perused the pieces, Cathy, working behind the counter, came to help. She mentioned that all the pieces were created by artists working in their workshops on the periphery of the nursery. She invited us to look around the nursery.

Walking into the nursery itself, was like entering a quiet bazaar. Imagine a large patio with the walkways covered. On either side of your path are pots, and plants, and hanging things with various patio decorations. The plants with flowers and without, the greens, and purples, reds, yellows, and pink, the cacti and rocks were all arranged to please the eye.

Cathy eventually caught up with us and took us to the two places in the nursery where weddings are performed. One, under a canopy of plants, the other was a small peninsula that jutted out into a pond with water lilies, frogs, and turtles.

Lizy and I took mental notes on the layout and eventually turned towards the parking lot side of the when we noticed a man toiling over a potter's wheel. He was in a corner of this studio-space, in the dark, bent over a pot he was working on.

We came closer and eventually got a clear look at his work. He took a raw piece of clay and slapped it on the wheel. With a nod of the head he acknowledged our presence and continued with his work. He then started the wheel and we saw magic before our eyes.

Sergio, we later found out his name, wet his hands and inserted his fingers into the clay. It immediately gave way and we began to see a cup taking shape. Pressing his fingers together from both the outside and inside of the cup, it began to morph and grow taller with thinner and thinner walls. Guiding the transformation of the cup, his hands made the cup bulge towards the bottom transforming the shape into that of a vase. His hands literally squeezed the neck creating an opening that no longer allowed in his hands. Picking up a small scraper, Sergio smoothed the surface of the pot to a perfectly symmetric shape. When done, it was hard to believe that the pot before us started as a lump of clay. The transformation was magic and it was truly humbling to see this mastery in action.

Sergio Naduville is a modest man raising his three daughters. His eldest was there the day we met Sergio apprenticing in her father's shop. After hearing our story, The Story of Threes, the emotion and creativity expressed in their eyes was palpable. It was soon after, while perusing his work in the shop, that we came across his house pot. An old pot saved from the scrap pile was given a new life as part of an experiment. It started as something of a Frankenstein monster, but to even Sergio's surprise, it turned out to be a beautiful expression of his home. This original experiment is kept secluded as it is for his eyes only.

Upon hearing this story, and seeing the pot on display, we began to ask questions about a pot we could have commissioned. This request, along with our story, and the possible use in our wedding ceremony fueled a common image of a pot we

To be continued...

Updated on 08/26/2005.