...Memory, for me, is tied up in physical things, and memory crowds my mind and heart, perhaps too much...
He goes on to tell the story of a particular bottle and the memories it holds (Go read. I'll wait here).
I started collecting bottles in 1985. We were visiting my in-laws, who were living in Nice, France for a year. One beautiful, Mediterranean, May day, we hiked up Baou de St. Jeannet (postcard, above; summit (with sheep), right). It was an all day hike, not because we went terribly far, but because we spent a long time wandering, looking at the view, and talking. While we were up there, we found an Orangina bottle stuck in a very old stone wall.
Now, I've never been all that much for sodas. They're usually either too fizzy or too syrupy. Orangina, in France, was different. It was lighter and not as fizzy as American sodas (the Orangina they sell here isn't as light). I also loved the bottles so, when we found it, we decided to take it home.
My mother in law liked the idea of using an Orangina bottle for a vase. A few days later, dear husband and I were were wandering in St. Paul de Vence (above). It's a walled town, dating to the ninth century. Besides being beautiful, it's very relaxing to walk around because the narrow streets leave no room for cars, which have to stay outside the walls. The tea room, La Douce Heure, where we ate, added to the charm.
I had an Orangina with my delicious, chocolate cake. I knew that the tea shop would get a deposit back for the bottle so I didn't want to just ask for it. Instead, in my French (which got me A's in high school and college but which wasn't as much use in France as I hoped it would be) I asked the owner if I could buy the bottle.
She looked at me questioningly, "Pourquoi?" [Why?]
I nodded at dear husband, "Parce que sa mère la veut comme une vase." [Because his mother would like it as a vase.]
"Ah! Je vous donne! Je vous donne!" ["I will give it to you!"]
Since then, I've collected many bottles as vases (Original Orangina bottle - above, left). Before our house lot was cleared, there were some stones remaining from an old foundation. We found an old "medicine" bottle (above, right) there. The ad on the bottle says, "Babies cry for more." The glass jar in the center (above) originally had chocolate/peanut butter syrup for ice cream. It wasn't my sort of thing, but older son enjoyed it, and I got to keep the jar for flowers. It also looks wonderfully round here with a zinnia in it, but, when I bought it, I pictured putting nasturtiums in it - with their curved stems winding around the inside. We won't discuss how many cabinets my vase collection takes up, although we do use most of them when we do the last, great put-all-the-pansies-in-vases-because-it's-time-to-pull-the-plants-out in late spring.
Most of the kids t-shirts that we've had have been handed down from child to child. Though, when sorting through them, I sit and remember all the park visits, playing, and book reading that happened in them, I can hand most of them on to the thrift shop. Some, however are special, and when they get too small for younger son, I have a difficult time getting rid of them. A number of them, which he'd outgrown a few years ago, sat in the hall for quite a while last year until I figured out what to do with them. I didn't just want to take them to the thrift store; I wanted to give them to someone who would appreciate them. Although the t shirts are still too big, I found someone to pass them on to - and, hopefully, Pip and Pemberly Poppets will eventually enjoy the bear as much as we did.
One t shirt didn't get too small. It got too fragile. I wore it for exercising when I was in college. It was a present from dear husband, back when we had little money for presents. I love the hiking cetaceans, the little skateboarding clam, and the parents with the baby whale. I eventually gave it to older son, who handed it down to daughter, who eventually handed it down to younger son. I repaired and repaired it, but it got to the point that trying to sew it would rip a new hole. It was time to take photos (below) and throw it out.couldn't hadn't. I totally forgot (or blocked it out of my head).
I'm sure many of you efficient housekeepers are asking whether I finally threw it out NOW!
Unfortunately, my fingers are in my ears, and I'm singing, really loudly, so I'm afraid that I can't hear you.