Awesome Mountain Trainer, Sarah mentioned a few weeks ago that a friend of hers felt this way upon returning to our little town from away.
And this got me thinking of old friends – not people but the possessions that mark important points in your life and make you feel something – mostly good. Small things, big things, all beautiful and meaningful.
When my husband wants me to give things away he doesn’t understand it’s like losing a friend or a memory of a day, a time, a way of life, a past wrapped up in and remembered in a thing, an object, a painting, a piece of furniture, a happiness or a foolishness recalled in an instant just looking at it.
Everything I own carries a memory – it’s how I took photographs back in the days I traveled without a camera. That bowl? A wedding gift from neighbours delivered to me when home alone on a lovely sunny early Spring day, the park across the street from my house alive with the sounds of dogs off leash from their peeps, and children playing. I can still see Gerry and Tayo in my minds eye and I still have the beautiful yellow bowl with red roses hand crafted by the potter across from the Five Thieves in Toronto’s Summerhill neighborhood. ( As an aside: that potter ended up living on Saltspring Island in BC, where I ran into him at a market one Saturday afternoon years later with some colleagues from CP while we were visiting a friend in Sidney and out for a wee boat ride on a Saturday afternoon.)
While in Calgary on the weekend I took a look around our downtown condo and thought about some of the old friends around me, some of which were picked up on this trip and returned home to Fernie with me. Like this teapot:
My good friend Nancy purchased this for me in Lisbon a few years ago when we were vacationing in Portugal together. I love it, the colours,the cool porcelain stone, and I love drinking a whole pot of tea from it. Yesterday it was matcha with a couple of drops of sesame oil. Yum. The whole process makes me happy. And as I pour a cup and take a drink I think of the shop it was purchased from on a cobblestone lane and the many opportunities we took to enjoy some end of day sangria after our travels. We traveled the entire country in two weeks and had a rare and awesome journey together.
I collect beautiful things that almost always have a story or great memory associated with them. Like this 50 lb marble elephant with inlay malachite and mother-of-pearl. He is the second of his type. The first was broken in shipment from Agra to Calgary about ten years ago and was replaced by the shipper.
The Replacement, was picked up in Delhi and transported back to Canada the long way by my good friend Stuart. This “happy elephant” was hand-crafted in Agra near the Taj Mahal and I love him for the smoothness of his marble stone, the beauty of his semi-precious inlay, the skill of the craftsmen that made him, and the memory of that impossibly hot day in Agra at the Taj Mahal with friends and later Stuart who has his own story to tell about this particular object. He collected the replacement elephant in Delhi, purchased a new Tumi roller suitcase and traveled with him in it across Western Europe to Austria, where he spent time with family while the elephant spent time in an airport locker before returning safely home to Canada to me. He has since traveled to Toronto where we lived again for a short time, back again to Calgary to our condo there where he sat by our lovely wood burning fireplace the winter after the stroke, watching me do my “living room laps” and now he’s back with me in Fernie where the happy elephant will remain for awhile, making me smile at him and at the memories of that day, of that time in my life, free from drama and adventure for a few years.
Then there are the four framed photographs of a beautiful meadow with a lone tree prominent just to the right of centre in an otherwise symmetrical scene. These photographs were taken each in Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, commissioned by my husband and given to me as a Christmas gift while we were living in London in the early 2000’s. The meadow in the photographs can be seen in the journey to our old cottage in Haliburton, Ontario and the lone tree was a sight I remarked on many times as my husband and I drove to our cottage every weekend from our house in Toronto. A lovely unpretentious little getaway that we enjoyed with family and friends for too few years before re-locating to the UK for work.
Just last week I wore a pearl necklace that was gifted to me by the partner I worked for at Peat Marwick in Toronto in the late 19980’s. Jan still laughs at the young girl from “Oshawa” (I was born in Toronto and grew up in what was then a new suburb east of the city called Ajax). This was the time of severe, boxy navy blue suits for business women and jackets with padded shoulders worn with sensible heels and pearl necklaces with matching earrings. I still have mine and they still look beautiful, given to me as I took that next career step forward to a great job at CIBC, beginning what would be a career largely spent in financial services until I made a sharp left turn after meeting Ted Rogers and joining his successful enterprise as an IT VP in the early 2000’s.
Looking around and thinking of those days, what comes to mind is a large oil painting by Nicole Sebille, with an ornate gilt frame, painted in in the fauve-style, of a series of blue and black farm houses at the end of a long red and gold field punctuated by pops of pink, green purple and yellow trees.
It was purchased at Galerie Rue Royale in New Orleans with my good friend Leonie on a trip we made together just before I started working at a Rogers. It was the second most expensive thing I had ever purchased on my own at the time and I knew it would be perfect in the new house I had just bought at Yonge and Summerhill in Toronto ( the most expensive thing I had ever purchased on my own at the time). That old friend is still in Calgary but coming here some day soon as I settle into life in my little town here in the mountains and bring all my memories along with me.
In fact most of the memorable experiences in my adult life have a canvas of some sort that marks an important event, just like an engagement ring or a wedding band that marks important dates in one’s life, mine is often marked by art. Or by the sweet little Princess Bunny in today’s feature picture, a get-well gift from good friends Gerry and Gaetano lounging in a hand-blown glass vase from South Africa, purchased from good friend Denise many years ago.
Wherever you are today, take a moment to look around and remember where you came from. The sum of experiences and memories that makes you who you are. Give yourself a little extra love and a pat on the back for making it this far. I’m going to rub my happy elephant while I have a cup of tea later today and reminisce for awhile with my old friends and think about the pah that brought us all to this place, this moment in time.