They were simple bowls, smooth, white porcelain, vertical sides with rounded lip, sturdy — the stamp on the bottom said ‘1951' in black-bold numerals printed in a no-nonsense font.

The shining stack of white entranced me when I first saw it, enough that I stood there awhile, taking a bowl from the top and caressing its side absent-mindedly, lost in novel consideration of a previously un-thought-of future, one with cupboards of my own where bowls would reside. I was seventeen.

The bowls had caught my eye as I’d wandered through the store, just graduated from high school, working in retail, taking a year before deciding my future course. I’d never looked at *bowls* before. This was a new, grown-up, contemplation.

I bought two. Two, as if one had been too lonely a concept to purchase and any more than two had far too much weight for my seventeen year-old self to bear.

The two white bowls have resided in all of the homes I’ve lived in as an adult — an often vagabond life, touching down here, there, packing up and moving on, or moving back, two decades and more, the two bowls wrapped and re-wrapped in newsprint, then bubble wrap, tucked in something soft.

Ironically, it was their utilitarian virtues that eventually gave them such indestructible value, grown from their ability to shine on both standard rental kitchen shelves as well as on rough-sawn planks I turned into a cupboard in the rustic kitchen I built while living in a canvas yurt.

I lived there with my son for five or six of the warmer months, off in the Olympic rainforest in Washington State. The planks for the kitchen shelves I’d found in the back of the barn on the communal property where I rented the yurt, stacked in an old, forgotten tack room.

There were other shelves in other homes. Shelves painted white where the bowls sat for a time, in a one-room cabin with loft in the redwood rainforest of northern California. There were shelves of old, well-used, raw Douglas fir, in a two-story octagon schoolhouse tucked in the back meadow of a hundred-acre farm. The dusty shelves of the long vacant octagon, when I first saw them, clearly showed paw prints from curious raccoons that had recently traveled through.

That home, the octagon, sat on log rounds and hung over a small creek on the edge of wilderness on an old commune, deep in the Siskiyous in southern Oregon. During gatherings (which were rare during my era), Back Meadow was used for circles around bonfires with singing and chants, talks, workshops, music. It was also starting point for hiking the back country with its deer trails and hiking paths crossing pioneer tracks intersecting with old silver miners’ roads alongside Chinese-dug canals. I used to sit on the porch and dream of taking off on those trails, leaving all the difficulties behind; it was my two kids who kept me grounded and at home, who helped make anywhere we were, ‘home.’ Morning cereal in the two white bowls.

Those bowls traveled well, too, tucked deep in U-Hauls on three cross-country moves, as well as in a cardboard box in the back of a canopied pickup two of my sons and I lived in for awhile.

In that (thankfully short) era, the cardboard box would be placed each morning and evening on the picnic table bench by the fire at our campsite, the box being our kitchen cupboard at the time. Spoons, bowls, cups would be fished out, the bowls then filled with oatmeal or applesauce in the mornings, soup, canned spaghetti, or boil in bag dinners most nights, heated on the two burner propane campstove.

On nights there was no propane, Topsy Turvy dinner would be declared, and breakfast cereal with bananas served in those bowls — or maybe Pioneer Night! with trail mix and a raw carrot on the side for each boy. I’d leave the leafy carrot tops on so my three and five year-old could play, “Ehh, what’s up, Doc?” as they ate.

For two decades now, the bowls have lived mundane lives in suburban homes, faithfully serving up soups and chilis, cereals, snacks. Recently, though, small cracks have shown, tiny fissures from heat and cold, jostling and stress, over the years. The cracks had been there awhile, invisible at first or nearly so, then growing more defined, turning dark.

I sometimes noticed, sometimes ignored, those signs of retirement in my bowls, those hairline cracks, marks of time and vigorous life. My mind, now, while looking in the mirror sometimes veers toward personal parallels; I will myself to resist. I am sturdy. I am strong. For the bowls, however, it was time.

The two white bowls now sit on the dresser — my dresser, where formerly, earrings gathered in haphazard piles and necklaces handed down had hung inelegantly with pins stuck in the wall.

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to those bowls.

They now hold jewelry. Inside the bowls, I have put pearls.

A re-post from 2014

Views: 275

Comment by Anna Herrington on June 4, 2018 at 7:37am

Again, thanks all - a tough weekend made a little better by your thoughts and presence and silent likes : ) on this old re-post.

I do believe those who only find strife here on this site aren't really looking for anything else, imho.

And the weather was perfect here for orcharding and planting and gardening and remembering the good things about being alive. Hope you all had good weekends ~

Comment by Ron Powell on June 4, 2018 at 8:28am

"...it's been a while, maybe time to re-watch."

If memory serves correctly, the film centers on a journalist's search for the meaning of Kane's last words which are spoken in the opening frames; "rosebud".

It's always a good time to review a classic film or novel....

Comment by The Songbird on June 5, 2018 at 8:33pm

Mmmmmmmm.  What a luscious story, all the while, illuminated underneath by the pearlescence that these bowls have imparted to the plenties of your life.  I'm glad to recognize some similar travelings and travails, but am revered by this, thinking what may come of my own few-left, but well-traversed icons.  Keepers, all.  Thank you, Anna, for both acknowledgement, and permission! 

Comment by Anna Herrington on June 7, 2018 at 8:03am

What a treat, Ms. Rita and Ms. Songbird, to have you come by. 

Sorry to hear you, too, are here with sadness and news of a death, Rita. I am seriously missing the writers and poets this week, where we'd bring all our days to the forum and just share and exchange and lift each other up. I was inspired to write more, write better, too. It was a life changer and wonderful moment the first time I showed up and found you all - and there are plenty of lovely times like that in a lucky life, but I am particularly grateful for 'our time' when the moon (or sun) shone down on us all and we played. And wrote. And laughed and cried.

And thank you Songbird, your comment I read several times, along with Ron Powell's comment, made me ponder those inanimate objects that carry our experiences and sometimes emotions, a bit of the vibration of use over the years....  touchstones, of a sort.

....

I grieved myself into getting ill this week, I guess, my reserves were shot, already. Didn't know where to put the shocking images my brother gave me in his own shock and grief.

(Today's our wedding anniversary and all I'd like is to be served tea on the couch. Ha! I forgot to train the animals on this...)

Comment by The Songbird on June 7, 2018 at 8:11am

I'm sorry, darlin'.  I didn't know about the passings.  To Miss Rita, as well.  Shared grief is lessened grief.  And I too know when I've made my own self ill.  Kinda makes ya even more aggravated, but at times, I'm able to let it go, and just say, ya know?  my Spirit Girl is trying to tell me something!  Sorry, too, for 'shocking images.'  It seem a norm, in some way; you never know what's gonna be thrust at ya next.  Close your eyes, and displace it.  An image will come.  Blessin's.  SB 

Comment by catch-22 on June 8, 2018 at 9:42am

It’s quite remarkable, how you capture movement, physical and psychic, as well as stillness, by putting the pearls in the bowl. Looking inside, we see starlight.

My condolences to you and rita. I’m sending you both strength and softness on the early summer breeze.

Comment by J.P. Hart on June 8, 2018 at 10:40am

Dear Anna~
Once OTR
always
OTR!
Son-of-gun
We're
gonna
have
great
big
fun

Comment by Anna Herrington on June 10, 2018 at 8:36am

These last comments. A treat! Thought provoking. Back in awhile. 

Thanks all ~

Comment by Anna Herrington on June 12, 2018 at 9:24am

Catch, your comment sparked an interesting conversation over here, on the beauty some have in their words and ways of seeing that seem to produce beauty in the mind for me, period.

Then it kept going into funny areas about do Puritan descendents (or even Protestants at all, not that I have a clue about your background nor does it matter, the conversation just wandered this way... as it does, sometimes. It's our background.) lack wonder and imagination and richness thanks to all that dour and repressive way of living and seeing the world for generation after generation that might cripple entirely the more creative expressive ways in a heart and mind.... 

All from:  Looking inside, we see starlight.

Loved it! Thank you. And also for understanding my symbolism of pearls, for lack of a better way to express my own reasoning/desire in marking my arcs in adulthood, my wandering and footloose and living on the edge eras. It was a beautiful, priceless time, for all the anxiety of day to day, sometimes.

On re-reading this post, this line struck me this time around, perhaps due to the thoughts above:  For two decades now, the bowls have lived mundane lives in suburban homes.

And I now think it's time to re-phrase this more settled era as it's hardly been mundane, just to a naturally at heart wanderer, maybe, but these past two decades have had their own thrills and joys, just more internal wanderings and deeper, more still, growing and exploration.

As always, thank you for coming by, always insightful and a joy to read your poetic take on things  : )

Comment by catch-22 on June 12, 2018 at 5:08pm

Wandering conversations are my favorite. I think you are right about the effect of generations that fear and control and refuse to enjoy creative, primordial, organic creativity and expression...thankfully, no matter how stiff one’s heritage might be (I was raised in the most beautiful part of the planet, the Great Plains, by and among lefty-thinking Catholics who took very little of the church-going seriously until most of them just gave up on all that incense burning and sin categorizing) our natural inclinations are always available to us. 

I think I understand your line about the ‘mundane’ lives and your reinterpretation of it...a settled life after living wanderlust is such a contrast of energy. You’re right again, though, once I wandered into my own settled era, the inner growth that comes from roots established rather late in life has been more exhilarating than all my time twirling on the edge of not normal. It’s very special to have the space and time and experience, and utter lack of dourness, to create a profoundly wild inner garden. 

I’m hoping the words will come back soon...I’d love to pick up the writing again...there were days it was so easy, although not necessarily painless, thanks to folks like you and that old crowd that used to hang around these parts. I know I didn’t “know” the coolest kids but I sure read y’all.

In the meantime, here’s to the light from Pleiades, so young, so close, so bright.  

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