26 February 2009

matters of the heart::2

Around about the same time as I realised that the dust on the kitchen windows was stopping the sun from getting through, I mustered the energy to take my turn at clearing out the junk in the cellar. Young John had already sorted out some of his old toys - I had taken them back down again for the my cousin's children to play with when they came to visit. Baskets, flower pots and bowls and more jars, for hyacinths, a tin bath, no less than five mop buckets, ancient tools, an artist's easel, two sewing machines (one electric, one hand), a tin trunk half full of cotton fabric, crates of books and lego and railway track. And that's only the half of it.

The fact that we have cellar space is part of the problem. It's too easy to keep things because they might come in useful, or because you want to hand them on to someone else when the time is right. It's a bit more complicated than that, though. When I unearthed a bag of baby clothes originally destined for a jumble sale, I came across this little wool cardigan, the cuffs slightly moth eaten and frayed, but the body still sound. It made my heart ache a little. When my aunt made this for my boy, she would have been in her seventies (she died a couple of years ago). Thinking about her holding the wool and working away at it, a little act of love, folding it up in an old tea towel to keep it clean, well...how could I throw it away?

It can't go on though. I used to be able to live in the tiniest space with very few possessions and now I find it harder and harder to let go of stuff. Our little house is full to bursting point. The moths think it is a maternity home.

Time to adopt a wooden heart.


Anonymous said...

Your cellar sounds like my loft (and rest of my house, come to that!) I love the relics of our pasts, like the cardigan your aunt made, there's something so special about holding something that someone else's hands have made.

Anonymous said...

I can only echo what Princess Pea said about the loft being like your cellar. And I totally understand you not wanting to get rid of the little cardy and other stuff. I'm right there with you. We'll have to rent a lock-up soon!