Saturday, July 07, 2012

Stuff and nonsense...

I’m about to head out to chase rabbits. Feel like coming along?

When our Little Dog was alive and we spotted a rabbit ahead of us on the driveway, we would grab him, get him pointed in the right direction, and then say “GO GET ‘EM!” and he would charge at breakneck speed down the driveway toward the rabbit. The rabbit would wait a few seconds and then leap neatly into the brush alongside the driveway, and the dog would charge right on by and then figure out he had missed the rabbit and turn around and come trotting back and we would laugh and tell him what a good dog he was…

So yeah, this will be a mental meandering and who knows where it will lead…

A while back I went looking for a pamphlet I needed for the Sunday School lesson I was going to teach and I thought I had stashed it in between some books on the shelf. I have a habit of sliding cards and letters and other thin items between the books, which has led to some amazing and welcomed surprises. As time as passed, I have come across these unexpectedly while looking for something else.

In this case, I saw something white between a couple of books, which were wedged in there rather tightly, so I pulled out the book next to it and the white stuff and there it was. I go along most of the time OK, but every once in a while something will trigger an especially poignant memory and it is like getting hit with a tsunami – I am handling these incidents better and better as time passes – but still….

After our boy died I mentioned several times to Richard that I regretted that I had not saved more of the things that were important to him when he was a little boy. I had no memory at all of having saved this little book – which was among his favorites -- along with a birthday card my mom had sent him. It would have been when he was 5 or 6 years old.

The book it was sitting next to on the shelf was one of the Anne of Green Gables series, an old, battered and well-used book I had picked up at a yard sale or the thrift store, or some such place.

So then of an evening over the next week or so I found myself reading this book and remembering the excellent TV series that was produced based on these books.

The great actor Colleen Dewhurst was perfectly cast as Marilla, as were Richard Farnsworth as Matthew and Megan Follows as Anne. Dewhurst and Fransworth are both dead now, but I just saw Megan Follows a week or so ago on a new series and what a shock to see she is no longer the little redhaired girl in pigtails but a middle-aged woman.

A favorite Marilla quote in response to something Anne had said:

Oh, stuff and nonsense.

Which gives pause for thought about all of the stuff we collect, about ourselves, and how important it becomes to us, and what happens when it breaks.

There has been an outbreak of breakage here in the past few weeks. Four items I have valued very highly have been broken.

I put my yogurt in a pottery bowl my Aunt Betty made sometime in the 1970s, and when I was finished eating it, I turned in the chair so I could get up and take it to the kitchen. I was still seated when it slipped out of my hand. It fell less than 2 feet and landed rim-side down on shag carpeting, and there was no reason in the world why it should have broken. But there is was -- in pieces. Fortunately, I have two more of her pottery bowls, which I do not eat out of, so I can still enjoy looking at them without too much worry that they will break.

Richard was washing the dishes and the pottery plate I use for my lunch cracked. He has no clue why. He did not drop anything on it in the dishwater. It just… broke.

A few days after that, again while he was doing the dishes, the handle came off the pottery tea cup I drink tea out of. Again, he didn’t do anything to it, it just broke. He was able to super glue the handle back on so I can at least still use it if I don’t hold it by the handle.

The green pottery mug I drink my coffee out of is still intact, and I have asked him not to wash it – I’ll take care of that one myself.

Finally, within a day or two after that, the magnet that I had glued on to the back of the fossil fish, and which has been on my refrigerator for probably 25 years, let go. It fell and broke. He says he can super glue that back together as well.

It is hard not to become attached to stuff, especially stuff that brings us pleasure when we look at it or was stuff that belonged to someone we loved and cared about. It appears that even Neanderthals were buried with their tools.

I don’t think it is wrong to have stuff or even to like the stuff we have. I do think, though, we just have to be careful that our stuff isn’t also our treasure.