Friday, June 22, 2018

Shells

I looked down at the inherited spoon I was using to eat oatmeal this morning and realized that the form of the thing is a silent memorial to my grandmother's sensibility. In her benchmark Woman's Day Book of American Needlework, Rose Wilder Lane says,"Our lives are short. Our work lives after us." Ms. Lane herself mentions the spoon her family inherited from Walt Whitman.


Like the eloquent expression of a sea shell or the more ephemeral skeleton of a weathered leaf, a cherished artifact embodies the culture of the family. The most vivid example that comes to mind is a pottery oil vessel that sat on the mantel of a three-hundred-year-old French farmhouse. The World of Interiors covered the story of the last member of the family who had willed it to the nation as a museum. The jar was handmade, funky, sensible, far from elegant, and clearly just right for its intended purpose, since no one had gotten around to discarding it in favor of something higher tech. Longevity was its principal message-30-

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