Junking

has taken the concept of hosting a simple “Garage Sale” to a whole new level. Imagine farm fields, their grassy carpets filled with hip vendors perched on chippy stools, smiling under sparkling white tents. Barns filled with stitched banners made from aged bark cloth, floral, and linen announce, Little Olde This or That. A vintage fair for the seekers of all things timeworn, pretty, cherished or repurposed. An opportunity to recall moments from the past. A chance to whisper, I remember.

beautiful bark cloth
beautiful bark cloth

Wooden shelves are lined and brimming over with yesterday’s treasures or necessities. My eyes spy the china saucers, their mate cups now long gone. Floral chintz, calico and full blooming roses adorn the plates. Sugar bowls, their lids long ago cracked and broken, perfect vessels to fill with hot soy wax and candle wicks. License plates stack in wicker baskets. Each precious piece holds a story from once upon a time.

Yet these bespoke pieces are not lost or forgotten. There are still souls that cherish the dusty and worn.  I pause to behold an old tin medic kit, the red cross sprayed and stark against the white background. The battered tin rusted in spots, blackened down to the metal. I imagine the urgent fingers that lifted the latch and searched for the proper bandage or wrap to staunch a flowing wound.

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My eyes discover a wooden drawer, stacked upright and alone. Walk away. On the front of the wood, stamped in black paint, are the numerals 1929. There is a tender reason I covet such a humble piece. I wonder about the careless owner who dripped the bright orange paint inside the once pristine space.Just an old drawer? Never. Once home I opened my trusty tin of annie sloan chalkpaint and painted the inside of the drawer. Next I searched for a set of legs and found them under an old, IKEA tray table.  There's still some painting needed on the table legs, some harsher sanding to be done. Repurposed gorgeousness.

Is it just an old drawer? Never.

Carefully, I lift my new found treasures from the trunk of the car and place them within the fading light. I consider their loveliness. An old soul stirs and smiles.

Gently I polish to reveal each item’s patina. Shabby yet chic.Timeworn Elegance.

What about the drawer, you ask? I open a trusted tin of annie sloan chalkpaint. My brush strokes cover up the spilled flaws. Suddenly the old drawer softens and suggests a usefulness. A set of folding legs from an old, IKEA tray table are the perfect item for the drawer to nest upon. Repurposed gorgeousness and regal status.

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A piece of barkcloth in pristine condition waits to grace my kitchen.

Salvaged bits from other lives and stories that live on.

Ancestry

The ad captures my attention~ discover your past, your family’s story.  I begin a quest to discover the history of my family, to know their stories. Regrettably, it never occurred to me to enquire about family when I had the chance.  The relatives I knew kept silences and secret whisperings locked away.

An ancestry membership started me on a journey to discover my past, to discover the men and women whose spirit, hard work, and resilience contributed to my DNA.  Like Alice, I fall down the rabbit hole to emerge in England.  Perhaps this partly explains the allure of floral and chintz.  I cannot pass a vintage thrift shop; I must enter and wander the aisles, linger with the china tea cups and saucers.

Cabbage roses capture my attention. Closing my eyes, woodland hares and rose bushes come into focus.  A calico cat peeks out from behind a stone shed, its stealthy body poised, yellow eyes set upon a morning robin, watching as the bird alights atop the country garden’s netting.  Sweet peas inch up the strings, their perfumed fragrance intoxicating, carried on a gentle breeze.

A paper bag princess, royalty eludes me! Instead, I discover a fascinating world, its simplicity steeped within the doctrines of the Church of England and the land.  I am descended from working class people; tenacious spirits, the farmers and carters beckon me to pause and pay respect.  The great, great, great-granddaughter of hardworking men and women who tilled the beautiful pastoral lands around Shropshire, England.  I wonder if an everlasting thread connects us still. At times, their presence fleeting, their faces mirrored back. Perhaps these old souls smile when they view my humble garden, the sunflower seeds and tightly rounded sweet peas unfurling from seed coat jackets.  Maybe they tenderly gaze back from the faces of those I hold dear.

I stop to study the women’s photographs.  I note beauty and grace, the comforting resemblances to those now here. Standing tall, their proud high foreheads face the camera.  Beautiful dark eyes share the untold stories, the stories of strength and courage.  These courageous women, many sent to work as domestics while still children, some missionaries in China, others interned. Many grieved babies lost to consumption and disease.  Many lost husbands.  All had mouths to feed.  These tireless women, their beautiful, haunted eyes beholden to the emotions, sorrow and joy. Beholden to the land and the seasons.

When in doubt, I imagine these women sending forth heart beats fueled by a fierce strength and unrelenting resilience. Loyal to family, sheltering one another throughout life’s storms, imagining the opportunities, if only wealth or education had happened along their paths.  They forge on, some daring to dream of a future with opportunities and choices for those waiting in line.

Discovering a family’s past, uncovering the mysteries and facts, I set my compass down.  It is an honour to gently sift through the stories, unveil the lives of ones so true.  I take away their gems and stones to polish and shine.  I gather strength from their life stories.  I cherish who I am.