Scraps of History

shower curtain IMG_2191One of the quickest way I find everyday enchantment is to closely look at the belongings in my home. I recall  the meaning of each piece, the feeling behind it when I purchased or received it or imagine its life before it came to live with me.

My little moment of enchantment today has to do with a shower curtain.  I have an affinity for old, worn, tattered things; a well-loved quilt, a step stool with peeling paint, cracked sepia toned photos – even if I don’t know who’s in them.

Years ago while my mom and I were haunting thrift stores and antique shops we started picking up bits of fabric, mostly napkins and handkerchiefs. We had no idea what we were going to do with them, but that has never stopped us before.

It wasn’t until months or maybe even a year later that I uncovered these hand sewn squares while organizing a closet. Slowly an idea began to form. I knew why I had gathered them. I picked out all the whitish ones without stains and set them aside. When I found a hand crocheted lace roll I began to assemble the piece in my head.

My mother had just started quilting. You should know that the women in my family tend to migrate from craft project to creative endeavor and back again. Painting, cut paper, cross stitching, sewing, jewelry making, quilting and anything remotely artsy. At this particular time, mom had discovered quilting.

I handed her all my little whitish squares and requested a patchwork shower curtain. We used the roll of tan lace to adorn the top and she fitted each napkin and handkerchief together like a vintage puzzle.

Now each time I glimpse at the shower curtain I wonder about the people who hand-stitched and tatted this piece or that. I imagine the dinner parties where the napkins stood in for the pot roast before it was served, somewhere between the martinis and brandy. Scraps of a chenille bedspread that kept a family warm in their drafty country home captivate me. I wonder if the  lace may have been meant for a fancy dress and why it wasn’t made.

It’s these bits of imagined history sewn together with love in the present that take me to that enchanted place.

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