Monday, November 26, 2012

Peter Rabbit remembers

Sorting through a kitchen cupboard I came upon this,

part of a two-piece set of Beatrix Potter Wedgewood given upon the birth of my son.  The friend from whom he received it has been gone just short of 10 years.  Such a plate is by now, I imagine, considered a collectible. [Mentioning a Thanksgiving table with a Lazy Susan in a recent writing assignment, I was assured that Lazy Susans are now definitely in the collectible category, extinct as hoop skirts.]

If I can weave them together, the pieces that took form as I looked at the dish seem to be about comfort, simple acts of human kindness that make a difference; about what endures - in friendships, in iconic or treasured objects, in memories, in tradition; about the swiftness and brevity of it all.

I see Jane, bestower of Beatrix Potter, helping me paint an iron bedstead on our porch in Sierra Madre Canyon, steps away from her house.  I see and hear her chuckling at Ratso, my vintage rabbit fur coat, one of many hippie-esque remnants that seeped into the 1970s.  She was not one to offer the sip of camomile tea, her comfort took other forms.  Freelance assignments, enticing me away from a state of semi-exile (with low rent and great weather) to a real writing job and the unrealized promise of an assistant back in my hometown, unequaled generosity and fine humor.  She could not have been called sentimental or mushy.

Without checking the date, I would not have realized how long ago Jane died.  With my imperfect memory, I'm not sure if I've written about her in other years.  I do know any mentions would not have included the Peter Rabbit illustration.  I may have missed the mark, trying to find a point in all this.  The closest I can come is to note we are reminded that forward is really the only direction, persevering is the indicated action, holding on, sometimes lightly, but holding on nonetheless may keep up from drifting too far off course, our anchors as fragile as memories or photographs or a child's china plate.


susan t. landry said...

ohhh. peter rabbit plates, bowls, and cups. say what you will, any grumpy types out there, but beatrix potter was really really good at what she did.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Yes, she was really, really go at what she did. Time IS a test of what has value, meaning. My baby son had a Beatrix Potter mobile, the most charming soft figures of Jemima Puddleduck, Tom Kitten, Mr. Jeremy Fisher and Company. Darn, now I want to go look on ebay and see how deep into three figures such an item is going for, if it even exists. Grumpy types need not stop by. xo

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Funny how we can be stopped in our tracks of 'going forward' by something so simple as a dish. I was reminded of an old friend long gone now the other day when a certain Joni Mitchell song came on. Memories are buried and indeed anchored deep in the attics of our mind. I love the image of your hippy days in the hills!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kerry - These moments catch me frequently. The longer we continue, the more reminders there are of the lost. It would probably be more mature for me to be less connected to so many aspects of the hippy days, but that's not going to happen. It was the perfect time and place. xo

Lisa H said...

Those friends are more than valuable.
The word Teacher comes to mind.
What a cool gift, and one that will endure. Sounds like Jane was the giver of MANY gifts. Now who does THAT remind me of..?
oh yeah, YOU!~

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - Thank you. Jane WAS a giver of many gifts. My sister tells of watching her shop once in the giant bookstore for which my sister was the gift buyer. A sight to behold. And in our best moments, I believe we are all teachers, are we not, and most of life a lesson. xo