Thursday, August 10, 2017

Child's Play

There's a sweet little girl who lives across the street from me.  Her name is Lilly. She's eight and has taken a shine to me. Perhaps it's because she loves my gardens, right now aflutter with the earliest Monarchs, but I'm also teaching her to knit... mostly she likes to chat and I am a good listener. :) Yesterday we worked on mastering the purl stitch (she's a quick study, let me tell you!). Such a smart little whip! Children love to learn...and they are naturally curious.

Today, as I was straightening my antique cupboard which, if any of the grandkids dared look in it, look out! There are things in there that just peak the curiosity and capture the imagination.  Books, yes.  All (Andrew Wyeth, being one of my favorites), architecture, religion, yoga, gardening galore, and a few antique books, as well as some eclectic and odd ones. But what makes the cupboard really interesting is the odd stuff---you know, the stuff you loved to look at as a kid. And the stuff I still collect and stow away. Perhaps it's the child in me still. There are seed pods, giant acorn caps, dried lichen and herbs...

There are crystals and dried leaves on which to write wishes...

And the oldest book I own, once owned by my dear Dad...Pinocchio, copyright 1916, and so worn I have to tie a big green ribbon around it to hold it together.  The illustrations used to both frighten me and intrigue me. They still do. (Check out the first line of that chapter, lol!).

There are three little wooden mice I've had since I was nine and bought when living in Germany at a wonderful store called Harry's, where they served soft drinks, champagne, and special chocolates to the customers as they browsed. Some of the mice have their ears chewed off (don't really know what did that!), but this little family is perfect for a cupboard with mouse holes! Their tails are long gone, reminding me of a nursery tune...And there are these tiny carved ivory tusk polar bear and arctic fox figures that my father brought to my mother when he was in Alaska for survival training all those years ago. I always adored them as a little girl and am fortunate to be the recipient. Such wonderful detail...and the smooth, cool texture of the ivory is a delight for the fingertips!

And I keep my blackthorn mortar and pestle, filled with herbs, in there, mostly as a Goody Prymm prop.  When I open up the cupboard, the sweet herbal smell of dried herbs wafts through the room. There's also an antique hand crank child's sewing machine from 1930s Germany, which I bought years's tole painted. I don't know why I keep it, except that it's a toy from a not-so-innocent era...kind of sad, really...

Lastly worth noting is a little brass bell that belonged to my husband's mother. I love to keep it in there because each time I open or close the cupboard doors, there's the sweetest little tinkling, reminding me of loved ones who have passed.

Hope you enjoyed peaking in my cupboard!  Who knows what else I'll squirrel away in there...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan


  1. How wonderful! I loved looking in your cupboard! I had an Aunt Viola who was so precious to me and such an interesting person. She had treasures in her house that I loved to examine and hear about. A special treat was getting to light all the candles around the house whenever I came over. Now I have a little 3 year old granddaughter named Viola. Before she was born, I gave to my daughter my Aunt Viola's ID bracelet from World War II with her name and office engraved on it. Recently, when I was babysitting my little granddaughter, I don't remember what we were talking about, but she said wait a minute, and she ran upstairs to her parents' room and came back down with a small white box. Inside was the bracelet. Viola said, "This is for me from the other Viola. It's very very special." When her parents came home that night they were floored. They said they had no idea how Viola knew about the bracelet and if they had ever shown her, it had been when she was so young that they can't imagine she remembered. Oh, well, all of this is just to say that your little friend Lily will always remember you, your kindness to teach her to knit and your treasures that you shared with her. What a blessing for her to have a friend like you.

    1. What a beautiful story, Vicki Jo! Your little granddaughter sounds like a bright one! Children sometimes remember things we think they won't...and it is always surprising when they do (keeps us on our toes, lol!). And I LOVE the name sweet....

  2. sweet cabinet of curiosities indeed ~ one of mine contains a petrified frog, snail shells and tea-leaf reading cup and saucer! luck for your little friend that she has your knee to sit by while she learns to ply the needles...

    1. A petrified frog!!! I've seen your snail shells in your posts; they're really big ones (mine are uber-tiny because we live in such a dry climate). I read once that the spiral is a mathematical principle that can be applied to all of nature (or something along those lines). Is a tea-leaf reading cup and saucer any different from a regular cup and saucer? And, btw, I'm the lucky one to know Lilly because my oldest granddaughter has moved out of state and my youngest isn't even 6 months old yet!