September 25th, 2019
Candle: matchstick scrape on gritty runway, whoosh of fire that bobs, kisses the wick on the neck, behind her ear, before igniting her into full flame.
Candles are friends, lovers, soundtracks of light, and my life would be less without them. They cast spells, enchant rooms, hold secrets (and possibly the future), create community and bring joy. They make food taste better, they make even the dingiest of rooms romantic; they are mood-shifters, wax confidants, melting timekeepers.
Candle moment #1 – I am a small December birthday baby, slid under the Christmas tree in my car seat like a present, branches weighed down by clips that hold tapers. It’s Handel’s Hallelujah, but sung by tall beeswax and property pine.
Candle moment #13 – Prince Edward Island, 1992. Picnic tablecloth of checkerboard blue. Those round shallow Tupperware bowls in burnt orange, brown, avocado and yellow where the lids are also plates. Orange Tang in my avocado cup from the same set. The Atlantic Ocean as both mood music and maitre’d. My family is eating fresh mussels, dipped in garlic butter, heated by a candle flickering in the wind. When you drop a mussel off the edge of your fondue fork, you have to kiss everyone at the table.
Candle moment #60 – Somehow perfecting the ability to turn the old fashioned hot water tap with my toes. Clawfoot bathtub, my pre-teen second home, where I steeped in crushes, deep feelings, and Women in Song compilations. Candle on my left, Sarah McLachlan and the memory of how he asked me to dance, everywhere.
Candle moment #97 – The birthday we ran out of candle spots on the Swedish tole-painted wooden birthday crown that had been counting years in flame. I am too much light for this piece of wood. That’s a sentiment that gets acted out metaphorically for years afterwards.
Candle moment #189 – Pretty sure it was the family trip to Charleston, South Carolina. We’re browsing this well-curated home goods store. I find a candle that costs as much as our hotel room does for a night. It smells like linen hanging on the line in a spot where there are happy babies and a man who knows how to chop wood and you know you are married to that man and probably you honeymooned in France, which is how it smells both rustic and expensive. It’s in a brown glass bottle with a wide wick and a punctured copper top. I do not buy it and I am still haunted by the fact I never got to bring it home.
Candle moment #301 – I am in the middle of a long dark night of the soul that has lasted years. At one point, I look at the glow because I’ve decided the dark needs a bit of a reprieve and the shadows it creates are the demons I’ve been dialoguing with and we’re all together, like a committee meeting I can close by exhaling with force.
Candle moment #458 – Me, at every restaurant I’ve ever been to that has table candles. I do the candle scuttle. You know the move. The sideways sneak to a table whose candle is lit when yours goes out. I am a thief in the night.
Candle moment #763 – That one time candle wax was supposed to be sexy. It was not. We laughed. That was sexy.
Candle moment #1045 – I had this dream of creative people sitting around big harvest tables, faces lit by candlelight and tummies full of nourishing food that had just the right amount of magic. We’re coming up on our retreat #7 and we’ve hosted countless dinners that only really become fully ‘Nurture’ the moment the match meets the wick.
Candle moment #2119 – Nurture Spring retreat, 2019. Brown paper packages sitting on the edges of each attendee’s bed, full of meaningful gifts. The heads of two tapers – one beeswax yellow, one chocolate brown, peeking out from the bag like two sisters that are waiting, like the rest of the rooms’ spirits, for their attendees to arrive. These candles are from East City Candles, a company that crossed my path via Instagram and our mutual friend, Mel. I am obsessed.
Laurel, you are the candlewitch in question.
What I love the most about you is that you used to be a floral designer and ended up retiring that business to focus on something you loved ‘a little less’. (Yes, reader, you read that correctly. But lest ye be mistaken, candles are a close second to flowers for Laurel and she loves flowers enough to change her whole life for them.) That’s deep love. The beautiful thing is, you can feel that love in your candles. From your branding to your ethics and your aesthetic eye for exactly the right scents and vessels.
Laurel, there’s a phrase I heard once that goes something like: “objects leave not their maker’. To me, this means:
When you light an East City candle, your customers light a little piece of you – your mood, your life, your devotion when you were pouring or dipping that candle. I love that.
You are in the business of providing light, which is a sacred thing, I think. It seems to me you’ve intentionally designed these candles to live by. Thank you for the moments that accompany them.
P.S. There is nothing I enjoy so much as being witness to others following their calling and creating delicious spaces for you to connect and be inspired. You’ll find a series of love letters to creative kindreds I’ve discovered whose passion, talent and depth of spirit are palpable on the blog, and who generously donated their products to the women attending our retreat. Does this describe you or someone you know? Feel free to learn more about our partnership model here for our upcoming retreats. Want to attend a retreat in person? Our fall retreat just sold out, but we have our spring retreat coming up May 8-10th, 2020. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waitlist for first access to registration!
To learn more about Laurel and East City Candles:
Photo: East City Candle tapers on site at Nurture Spring 2019 by Katie Benfey