Sunday, 13 April 2008

Treasure revealed

(...continuing from blog below)
I spent the whole morning washing the muddy 'treasure', out in the Spring sunshine. It was an odd feeling, handling the pieces of domesticity that were so assiduously hidden; pieces that ages ago, in this very place, someone actually used daily. A mouth that's now no longer in this world cupped its lips over these dainty porcelain rims, a hand used to wash them the way I do now... funny; I never felt this way before when buying, say, a mug in a junk shop. Or even when moving house! It's something about the way this ancestor must have valued those few pathetic, mis-matched possessions, probably all the family ever had - why else would (s)he have buried them 3ft deep? Did they have to leave in a hurry? Did they hope to come back? Did they think they'd never have the means to buy another cup or saucer?
And I reflect with a slight shiver of guilt how I think nothing of picking up a mug at Tesco's for a few pence. It's only a few generations back (there was a lonely 1 Austro-Hungarian crown coin in the teapot, from 1883) but how our lives have changed. Now I revel in the romance of having no running water or a loo here, but for this family it was no romance, just daily life. Come Summer, come hard Winter.
Anyway - I know this sounds sentimental, but my feelings were all too real out there by the water pump: I promised the ones that never returned to claim their belongings, to look after them, and to make the house come to life not just for those that come after us, but also in these ancestors' honour.

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