When I found my way into Farm House’s kitchen on Sunday, people were gathered around the stove dipping wicks into boiling wax. Although the number of people around the range probably constituted a fire hazard, everyone was having a good time. The conspicuous smell of synthesized spices from myriad melted candles, permeated the air. It was like having a visiting salesman from SC Johnson testing samples in our kitchen.
Throughout term, Tori Ostenso has been collecting candle stubs from professors. The number we received is enough to create ambiance for 76 romantic dinners. Initially, we assumed that the English department would contribute the most candles, followed by Religion. We were right, but the Chaplain blew us away. There was also a three-wicked wonder that we could not justify melting down, because when lit, you can roast s’mores over it.
Yesterday I looked through the box of candles that we produced. In sum, there are probably two normal candles in the pile we made on Sunday: most look pretty strange. Apparently dipping long, perfectly tapering candles is a skill that’s been long lost to Carleton’s oral tradition. Our candles are nonconformists. They’re beautiful in their own right. Some of them look like earwax, one of them goes out every time you try to light it. Making candles you can buy at the store wasn’t really the point. The point was to feel that small gratification, that some wax that could have ended up in the dumpster, will instead be used to light up someone’s meal. I think that’s pretty cool.