blue vs. blues
it hit me, as it often does, in the blink between up and sleep. not even fluttering eyes, and already the lunge ball gets me. right in the belly.
the weight of the week just past, the specter of the week ahead. it doesn’t usually collide on the weekend, but this weekend it did. saturday morning felt too much like a monday. a blue monday, most of all.
so i did what makes no sense. i didn’t dive into the taxes, which was but one of the dark clouds looming. i didn’t dive into cleaning, which, check this out, i need to do for work (a journalistic foray into the land of cleaning without toxins).
i did not do a one of the things on my nerve-wracking, energy-sapping, tummy-rumbling list.
nope, i grabbed for old spoons and plates. i found solace in old willow china, chipped around the rim. i found delight in antique silver, worn to dull through decades of thumbs and fingers, lips and tongues, slurping, spooning, licking, lifting.
i ditched the deep red cloths of winter, pulled out the checks of blue and white. laid blue on blue on blue. watched the morning light stream in. it made blue shadows on the wall.
i tossed, at last, a mound of old dead apples, apples that long ago required cpr. i dusted out the wooden bowl in which they spent the winter. tucked it on a shelf.
filled an english pitcher with fists full of daffodils.
all the while, i worked alone.
the gods of sleep, they blessed me. even though they forgot to protect me from the onslaught of waking up with a lead weight in my belly, they kept everyone else in the house in slumber till i woke them at half past ten.
you can imagine, i’m sure, what three unbroken hours of solitude and silence do to soothe a harried mama’s heart.
i found, in setting a springtime table, that i was chasing away the blues. or keeping them at bay, anyways.
i have, since long ago, a little girl keeping watch as my grandma put out silver napkin rings and damask napkins, egg cups and a silver rack for toast that i might have thought would hold up bills and letters, or baby bicycles perhaps, found joy in setting tables.
i’m neither martha stewart, nor minimalist when it comes to tables. you won’t find me glue-gunning little bunnies, nor waxing autumn leaves.
but you will find me sighing as i put out plates given to me long ago, by a man whose house we bought who’s probably no longer still alive. and you will find me thinking all about the friend who gave me old spoons for turning 50.
as i set the table, i gather souls, some of whom i’ve not seen for decades. but who are never farther than the drawers and the cupboards where i keep old things, beautiful things. things sometimes chipped, often worn, but always with a story.
i set stories on my table. weave a half century, now, of history into what you might see as simply plate and spoon and cup. but not me.
i run my fingers over the plate of a gentle man who wept as he left behind the house he’d carved with light. i lift the cobalt glass i first gasped at when i spied it on a shelf at a store that is no longer, a young bride picking the things she’d set on her table till death did they part.
i have no clue if my grandma soothed her jagged nerves unfurling damask cloth, making paper place cards affixed with bunny cut-outs, or jolly santas with rosy cheeks. she would never have let on, if in fact she did.
but i know that by the time my boys tumbled down the stairs and came upon a springtime table, i was less a frazzled mama and more a woman who’d found a balm in bringing stories to my table.
anyone else find solace in the laying of a table? in the textures and the patterns, the colors and the curves? in, most of all, the stories and the souls who are carried to the table?
You make me want to open the windows and pull out the picnic rug.I remember as a teen reading about table setting and finding pleasure in the nightly ritual. We always ate in the dining room – no eat in kitchen for 10…we set a proper table . I taught myself about flatware, silverware, setting, folding layering. I thought of it as a luxury to sit and eat at a well set table…my father’s office was in the house and his hours and commute were more than predictable. A far cry from today….late work, kids clubs and activities, my work etc. and we rarely eat in the dining room which now doubles as my sewing room. I occasionally set a proper table and it really does affect one’s mood and the taste of the food. Perhaps, I will surprise my loved ones with a springtime treat. Thanks for the idea….we will be dining on great grandma’s mix and match set in the sewing room oops dining room tonight!PS How do you get them to sleep past 7 am?
What a beautiful piece, bamela. This essay makes me apreciate my mother who lays a stunning table each holiday.With advance apologies to men at the table who like it, too, it occurs to me that a beautiful table can be art for women, like cooking is for some of us, too. Perhaps, with more time, we’d be painting, or sculpting, or carving, but many of us can’t do those things given our schedules. So we make our table a canvas.I got very simple plain white dinner plates recently at K-Mart for maybe a buck a plate. I have been collecting this year any salad plates I like: from garage sales, from the sale table at Anthropologie, wherever I can. Tomorrow I’ll lay a table for my New Yorker group, eight women who for seven years have been meeting to break bread and discuss selected stories from that weekly. I look forward to puzzling my different plates around the table. Your morning was way more nourishing than doing taxes and seemed to provide a similar amount of relief. Chinatherapy
ahhh, leave it to beautiful brilliant jan to put her finger on a thought i’ve never had…..the table as women’s art. or, shall i say, genderlessly, home art? isn’t that what this chair is searching for? isn’t that the underpinning of all these words, all these moments framed? we are, some us, groping through the days, held from knot to knot by moments that, unfurled, show extraordinary beauty. beauty often overlooked. it is, for some of us raised to honor saints and ascetics, a fascinating friction. can we search for beauty, savor beauty, and still be filled with grace? of course i have adamantly answered that now that i’m getting old and wise. but still i often feel the residuals of that friction, embarrassed almost to admit that i delight in beautiful moments not of the natural sort. hmmm….the art of dressing tables. yet another layer of the feeding of the soul, of those who gather to sup on what we set.chinatherapy, indeed. might i mention as i’ve done in other places, that once upon a sick bed, a hospital bed, it was jan who brought me nutrient-packed salad and accoutrements for lunch. but she didn’t toss in tupperware. no, she practiced what she preaches, chinatherapy indeed. she pulled china bowl of blue and white, silver knife and fork. she fed me in the days after they’d cut me open. she fed me with so much more than food. and for that i’ll love her always….
The soothing color of blue….Have I mentioned to you that you have brought cobalt blue to life for me? I always appreciated blue and all of its potential shades but your photographic images of blue have had an impact upon me – I am now looking for blues everywhere, noting their tones with a newfound focus, and I find these images of blue are saturating and fulfilling something in me …..Thanks for my new found blue –