I love old things. Old washing boards, woodstove irons, trivets, cast iron pots, old utensils, ragged lace, delicately painted cups and saucers, wooden rolling pins and clothes pegs, battered leather suitcases, black and white photographs, old linen, stencilled wooden nail boxes…I love them! They somehow transport me back to a simpler time. They call out to me. (That’s what I tell Chris when I come out of a second hand shop clutching a precious ‘find’.)
Yesterday I walked into a second hand shop and dreamed my way around all the pre-loved treasures – actually I think that’s what I love about them so much. I think of the hands that have lovingly made biscuits for hungry children using the old wooden rolling pin and egg beater. I imagine the gentle light of an old lamp flickering near a roaring fire in a small room clad with bare boards. Old tins that held colouring-in pencils and paints that Beatrix Potter herself may have used. Shopping for new things will never hold as much joy and excitement as I feel when I’m second-hand shopping.
The older I get, the more I realise how important beauty is to me. I love entering a home filled with old treasures and memories and beauty. I could stay there all day, drinking it in. And in the same way, it really affects me when I enter a house that has nothing of beauty about it. No small vase of flowers, no old treasures on the windowsills. I remember feeling really depressed after visiting a student flat once in the middle of Auckland. I couldn’t wait to leave. There was nothing to redeem it. Nothing of beauty.
Not that beauty means expensive things. Not at all. In fact, I much prefer a bunch of simple flowers in an old tin vase than an elaborate arrangement in a crystal vase. No wonder I walked out of the shop yesterday with a tin jug and a small cast-iron frying pan that I envisage the kids taking down to the river to cook eggs in over their camp fire. 🙂
One more thought while I’m rambling on about this…I am going to go home tomorrow (I’ve been at a writer’s retreat) and use some of those precious things that I have. I mostly do, but there are a couple of things that I haven’t. The one that comes to mind is an exquisite white cloth that Chris’s aunt made for me a couple of years ago. It has beautiful hand-crotched lace around the edge of it. I actually took it out last weekend and nearly used it on a table for Kate and Ellie’s candlelit concert in the garden, but then put it away for fear I might spill candle wax on it. On second thoughts I think I should have used it.