Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Stepping Stones (1)

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

We own a copy of 'A Journey Around My Room,' by Xavier de Maistre. Republished recently after too long a hiatus in the world of books, it was written in the 1700s while de Maistre was under house arrest for becoming embroiled in a duel.
He paid homage to his furniture and the various objects in his single room by turning them into items of great mystery, curious history and implements worthy of consideration.
For example, were I to take a look around the very room I am in, let us see what I might find. Initially uninteresting and bland bits and pieces can, with a wave of the pen, find new life and appreciation. Who knows where one thought might lead to, like stepping stones one at a time.
Before me there rests a cup: I had a hot drink of tea minutes ago. The purple cup is emblazoned with the image of an elephant. The animal is adorned with black and golden accessories and this picture is obviously a symbol of respect and part of something larger. The edge of the vessel is laced with golden paint of a sort, rather like an ornate oriental rug.
My mother had a cup just like mine until recently.
When I left Ireland in April last year I purchased for Mater and I two identical cups; we planned to sip our tea at the same time when we could, albeit in our varied time zones and with an ocean between. We purchased the cups in a supermarket in which I used to work and in which my mother still does; I still regularly hear from my mother's colleagues although that era was some years ago. We stay in touch and I visit the store whenever I am home. When I first began to work there, I wondered if Mater might find it awkward to deal with my presence. What turned out to be the most memorable was this: on the first day, with me looking splendid in my uniform, we realised that I was a smaller, younger version of my mother. I became known as 'Mini-Mom' for the time that I accompanied her to work.
I had no jacket; I missed out on that part of the uniform. We shared a jacket so one or the other of us, it seemed, was always cold. I ought to have had one to myself. It was worst on the days that I had to stock freezers and unload ice cream...

I was, a few moments ago, just looking at an ordinary cup- but you see, the cup is never empty. There is always a camouflaged memory waiting to leap forth. Everything contains a story within.

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