an ear to your heart

by bam

sometimes, great swaths of time can go by and it doesn’t happen. but it happened this year.

happened as i reached for the wadded-up clump that came in a box of other-sized things, all wrapped in the same red-with-white-snowmen.

little hands, you see, unable to wait when the big box arrived, had reached for the same lump and started the ripping, so this particular clump had some of its underthings showing. a brown-paper webbing, in fact, that was meant to keep something safe. but this something had my name on it, penned in silver on a snowflake cut from white paper, so when the ripping began we told it to stop. patiently, temptingly, its underthings showing, the lump it had waited all of these days.

there wasn’t much under the tree with my name on it this year, and for some reason i knew that this something i would want to open off to side, where i alone could drink in whatever it was.

and so, after the rest of the opening hubbub this christmas eve, in between gathering up scraps of paper and ribbons and ladling out bowls of white-hot white chili, i reached under the tree for the lump that was mine. as i unrolled the brown-paper webbing, i uncovered a layer of tissue with the stamp of a store that i love up in maine. stonewall kitchen, i read. and my heart started to skip.

you see, stonewall kitchen, a vast storehouse of jams and jellies and all sorts of dry mixes, also happens to peddle a blue-and-white pottery that makes my heart skip. burleighware, it’s called. comes from england.

the signature pattern is a rich cobalt calico. months and months ago, i splurged on a big fat oversized pitcher, marking the end of the kitchen construction and the start of the second half-century of me, which begins in just over a week.

never in my life have i wanted to collect anything (although there was a spell when the world, it seemed, had decided i was a bovine collector, and thus i seemed to reap cows in every size shape and utility), but once i eyed this burleighware, i thought, uh oh, this could be trouble. it’s blue and white you see, and i am a sucker for that.

cobalt blue sets me to swooning. and this burleighware comes in intricate patterns, each one transferred by hand, over in some charming barn in the countryside of merry ol’ england.

so back to my lump, now revealing its stonewall-kitchen origins. here’s where the magic starts to creep in.

i do not go on and on about “things” that i love. so maybe i might have once mentioned the shop, maybe twice. but someone was listening, someone was looking. paying attention to the thump in my heart that came from the blue calico pitcher, and a small flock of similar ilk that had crept into my kitchen in dribs and in drabs.

that, there, is the magic of christmas, the magic of gifting, the magic of utterly truly giving a gift. for in the end, as my dear becca (blessed art therapist who works wonders with the most troubled of kids) says, all that all of us want is to be heard.

and so, standing there, pulling back the tissue, pulling back the wrap, i found in my hands two tiny pitchers, both in calico blue. how did she know, was the first thing i thought. bless her for listening, bless her for hearing the thumpety-thumpety-thump of my heart.

they sit on my sill now, my white-with-blue sill, in the little thin window that charmed me, that whispered to me, the instant the builders slipped it into its place. there’s a bramble of bushes and a tall cedar fence out that window, but if you look carefully you can imagine a scene from a farm, all rolling and cows. and now, with the english calico pitchers, you might imagine an english farm scene.

but the best part of the window, now that they’re perched, is that someone was listening to the inner tick of my heart.

for a girl who spent years opening things that seemed to belong to someone down the road, around the corner, certainly at some other address, there is nothing so sweet, nothing so humbling, as the great gift of being touched at the tick of your heart.

perhaps it happened to you, perhaps someone heard the tick or the tock of your inner-most heart. if you care to, tell your tale here….