Old books exert a strange fascination for me -- their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt. -- Lauren WilligA couple of weeks ago, I came home with this little ceramic pot, which I purchased from a vintage shop at Whippletree Junction. I can't decide if the shop is called Myra Inbows or My Rainbows. But I digress:
It's been sitting on my dining table, just kind of taking up space. I sit and look at it while I'm eating dinner, admiring the glaze, picking it up and running my thumb over the unglazed bottom, running my fingernails lightly over the sandy bits that didn't quite melt in the kiln... wondering what the heck it is and why it was one of three that I spied in the shop. I picked it because it had the most varied in colour and had the most visible pattern in the clay. These little details singled it out. Little details make me happy.
So, this weekend, I was walking around another vintage shop in Cowichan Bay, which is just up the road from Whippletree Junction (can we just pause here and just delight in the name, "Whippletree Junction? I usually say it twice, with an emphasis on the 'wh' of Whippletree...). I was actually on the lookout for a cute teapot (which I don't really need, but I'm in the midst of a cute teapot obsession), and I walked right past another one of these little pots. I paused, walked backwards two steps and looked at it again. I picked it up, noticing it was the same shade of green of the ones I'd left behind at Whippletree, had the same unglazed bottom, similar raised pattern. I put it down, mindful of the fact that I'd left the hubby and Rascal waiting outside in the sun and hungry for lunch, but I made a mental note of what I'd seen.
One the way home, I stopped at Whippletree again, to pick up a ball of yarn from the yarn shop there, which I've visited a few times before. I needed it to send to my friend, dkzack, who'd been here for a visit not long ago, and who had pulled a classic "Adriene" (i.e. bought some yarn, but not enough).
And well, Myra Inbows (or My Rainbows - I must find out the name for sure) was open. I stopped in. The other two green pots were still there, and after standing there and staring for a while, I asked the shop owner about them. She explained that they are actually old "ginger jars," and they would have had a cork stopper on top, and that you often find them in old houses that are standing in ruins here on the Island. The lack of glaze on the bottom was to keep them from sticking to the kiln during firing. And, she remembered me... and remembered exactly which one I'd bought and what it looked like, and that made me happy that she remembered.
And then I went home and Googled like the dickens to find out more about them... that Chinese ginger jars have been around for a long time, and that mine was specific to BC, and that they were used for holding all kinds of different foods...
And then I went out to find some napkins for my little pot, so that it could have a purpose again in my little house. I like that it has a life again, even if it is only a little pot. Giving it another purpose made me happy.
This photo is a little truer to the actual colour. Maybe sometime I'll find a bit of cork and see if I can fashion one to fit in top, just so that it can have a lid again.
I suppose it's these little discoveries that make my little vintage discoveries so interesting to me. I delight in knowing that these things had a past, that they were created for a purpose, that they were used and cared for by someone, and that I can use them again. I wonder if the people who bought it in the first place thought it to be as beautiful as I do, and if they knew that it would find a home in someone else's house, possibly a century later. And maybe it's because I love stories that this is why I love old things.
It's nearly dinnertime. I'm off to put a bread pudding in the oven, make some chicken and potatoes, and set the table with the napkins in my new napkin/ginger jar. I know it's only a little thing.
But it makes me happy. And I'm grateful for that.