Oberlin Blogs

The Homes Away From Home

November 17, 2008

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

I spent part of yesterday helping my friend Hannah with an art project involving home and the journeys we undertake for Johnny Coleman's art course, The Talking Book. She had carved a beautiful heart shaped box out of wood with compartments to hold various things that symbolised her various homes. On one side, the inside had three compartments, which held soil from Oberlin, water from her homestate of Vermont, and pine cones and needles from Pinewoods, a summer camp that she had attended for years. The other side held the ashes of other small bits of tangible memories of home.

We built a fire of Oberlin wood and Pinewoods kindling, dousing it with Vermont water. It smelled of summers, winters and places I thought of as home too, though she and I only had Oberlin in common.

The last five minutes of the experience were spent in complete silence except the fire's dying hisses and the snowy breeze in the bare trees as Hannah recorded the sound of the experience. Cliched and poetic, I know, but it was a near-religious experience for me.

Close up of sticks and wood shavings

Someone bent over the sticks and wood shaving pile, striking a match

Cracked open and carved out chestnut

Chestnut next to burning fire

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