The emotional power held within temporal objects is sometimes shadowy. I keep a handful of china pieces, handpainted by my paternal grandmother, because she made them. But yesterday, I felt a deeper, visceral pull.
In my blog-hopping, I visited Elizabeth Wix's About New York and discovered a feast for the eyes. She featured a post on plates, of all things, and linked to numerous other blogs in a round-up. The beauty or memories to be found in our cupboards is astounding.
Looking at my grandmother's pieces, I recalled the care she took with her home and garden--always aesthetically pleasing and immaculate. She wanted beauty and she made it--mostly by hard work.
My other grandmother lived in reduced circumstances, many of her years were in a rented attic apartment in Brooklyn. She worked hard, too, caring for mothers and newborns. She sewed outfits for the dolls my paternal grandmother bought for me. And she also sold, on the side, little dustcloths she made by stitching a colorful fabric hand on a plain cloth so you could slip your hand into it. Sweet, but not a money-maker. I have her china custard cups from Bavaria and the bright Nippon china she acquired, and I realize how precious these few things were.
Through these objects belonging to my grandmothers, I connect with memories of childhood, which may shimmer out-of-focus, but can be quite specific in detail. For instance, I can remember the security and love I felt during car rides on frosty winter days, snuggled up against my grandmother's beaver coat, my small hand rubbing the fur back-and-forth to change the sheen.
Not only did Elizabeth get me to look with fresh eyes at my china, her blog, which is filled with fabulous photographs, catapulted me back to my younger days in New York. My entire family comes from there, but I spent most of my life in other places. Her photographs of cafes, brownstones, kids on field trips, flower markets and people's feet on the subway were like coming home. New York, despite its immense size, can be very much a village.
Look around. Are there any objects you haven't thought of for awhile that fill you with memories and emotion? I'd love to hear about them.