Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gloria's conjuring teacup

The cup's muted shadings, from baby blanket pink to the aqua of a striped sunset, drew Gloria back to childhood summer holidays on the coast.  On the many mornings of low, still fog when she and her grandmother were the only ones yet awake they shared tea and toast to fuel them for easy strolls on the walkways next to the sand.  Their rented cottage had a built-in china cabinet, repository of hodge-podge pieces culled from Cap's family history.  For the duration of their visits, the hand-painted saucer and cup were considered Gloria's.   Long before they crossed the bridge to the island, she began a silent chant that her favorite would still be there, another year later.
Gloria's favorite cup and saucer.  Thank you, Erin.
On their mornings together, Gloria listened for the kettle's whistle, then was allowed to pour the water over fragrant leaves and wait while Grandma fixed toast.  Often marmalade, sometimes cinnamon and sugar, real milk in the tea and not the canned kind (as though rationing was still going on) that Mrs. Hall forced on her without ever asking, made for a small celebration long before the sun appeared.  As steam rose and seemed to circle the breakfast table, melting into the fog, inside indistinguishable from outside, Gloria would not-quite squint, focusing her thoughts, or lack of them, on the touches of gold highlighting the painted flowers.  She looked back on those collected hours as training for a sort of meditative state, not really a trance or perhaps exactly that.  At home there was seldom quiet for such a lengthy period, no real chance to be alone with her meandering mind and discover in what direction it wanted to lead her.

One December, as she counted down the days until Christmas, a package arrived for Gloria with Cap's name as the sender.  It was, carefully sheltered, her cup and saucer and a Christmas card that said Santa had directed him to see this reached her.  Cap planned to sell the cottage and knew there were things and people that belonged together.  He also sent a silver place setting, complete with butter knife and a napkin ring, that brought her to tears.  That the same mail brought her and her siblings their greatly anticipated, individual, own boxes of candy from Great Aunt Hilda and the Detroit candy store that created special "Kiddie Boxes" for the season, left her with sweetness in her mouth and heart.

For the years she continued to live at home, Gloria kept her island treasures wrapped and stored, separate as though secret, feeling there was too much jostle and hubbub, for her and the china.  It wasn't until she moved out on her own that she reacquainted herself with steam, with tea, in a way that allowed for conjuring.  Real magic works best in silence.


Hilari said...

that's the smile your words gave me today.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Hilari - Thank you. The highest praise. xo

Erin in Morro Bay said...

And what a wonderful person Cap must have been to send his treasures out to those who loved them most. Good to see the mature Gloria peeking through her younger self and "guarding" the magic of the tea cup and silver against the jostle and hubbub of her childhood home - saving the magic to launch her new journey.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - To know where a thing belongs is a gift, isn't it? We are unacknowledged stewards of the past in many different ways. In my own life, I wish I'd been able to save, to protect more. It is what it is and must be okay. Things do, I trust, have a way of working out. xo