Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Do you find, as I do, that the things you live with every day are rarely if ever studied?  When did you last look at your pictures?  Seriously appreciate your ornaments?  Enjoy the pattern on your plate?
However, let me tell you what happened to me this week, something that turned such lack of appreciation on its head . . . it was the annual ritual of spring cleaning!

What spring cleaning brought home to me was not merely how fortunate I am in all that's been left to me over the years, but how it all comes together to tell a story . . . my story.  The story of an only child who has slowly accumulated all that remains of her departed family's bits and pieces.

Take the carpet . . . it was a wedding present to my parents, as was the convex mirror.  Take the three, small stools . . . now ideal depositories for my visitors' plates and cups, they once belonged to my grandparents and were used by me, when a toddler, as child-size seats.

Look at the pictures . . . amongst others there's a water-colour that was exhibited at the Royal Academy.  Many years ago the artist gave it to my grandfather.  And what scene does the picture portray?  The winding path above The Thames where, as a child, I regularly rode my pony.

On the shelves, alongside books received as presents and those that I've purchased myself, sits the collection of P.G.Wodehouse novels treasured by my father, the Kipling collection much-prized by my mother.

I relax in the  comfortable wicker chair that once sat in my nursery.  The china and cutlery in the kitchen were part of my childhood.  The bureau in daily use was inherited from a much-loved aunt, whilst the clock and barometer were regularly consulted by my grandparents.

But perhaps the most surprising item in my accumulation of family possessions is the boomerang.
This is a genuine, Aboriginal boomerang.  It was brought to this country by my grandfather when, as a child of six, he came here with his parents from Australia.
It would mean nothing to anyone else, it means a great deal to me.
Spring cleaning is over.  Everything is back in its place and will stay there, largely unnoticed, for another year.  But the annual exercise has given me the chance to observe and say thank you . . . thank you to the family who loved me and raised me and who, in leaving me their possessions, gave me my home.
Now . . . where did I put that boomerang . . . ?