Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Old Things

I still cook with my grandmother's cast iron skillets. I use her long-handled granite ware colander almost daily to wash fruit. In her day, they were just everyday kitchen items. Today, while some might see them as collector's items, I value them for their longevity and continued usability.

I like the solid feel of things in my hand. I value a hand painted pitcher given to my mother as a wedding present, an ornately decorated jar belonging to my great grandmother, an egg scale used by one grandfather, and a bugle from another.

In these days of transitory things, of items from the dollar store, Walmart or Target that decorate your house and then are sold or thrown out with the vagaries of changing taste, I still value solid things from the past. Things made well, that are still useful fifty, seventy-five, one hundreds years later.

And sometimes, when I am filled with self-doubt about why I write, I remember that I really, really, really love books. Real Books, with a front cover and a back cover and bound pages in the middle.

Because writing, like so many things now, is becoming transitory. Blogs and interviews and emails and instant messages - it is all like so much dust in the wind. Pictures, too, are now hosted on online web servers, or kept on memory cards or computers or saved on our social networking sites. Will there be no more boxes of photos with names hastily scribbled on the back, so that future generations can hold them up and wonder who was that boy at the birthday party, and is that really Jimmy when he was five years old?

So for me, as we get ready to ring in a whole New Decade, I'm happy to say that I still like Old Things. Like this book with my grandmother's name written inside.

It has lasted more than 100 years.

And when I struggle for months and years over a novel, trying to get the words just right, I guess it's with the hope that I might be making something of value - something that will last. Maybe even 100 years or so. So that decades from now, someone from a future generation might pull one of my books from a bookshelf, carefully open the pages, and say, "Hey, my grandmother read this book a long, long time ago. Look! She wrote her name inside."

Wouldn't that be cool?

Happy New Year, Everyone, and may you all find things that you value.


Loretta Nyhan said...

Great post! Oh, how I love old things as well. I'm drooling over those cast iron skillets. Do you know how difficult it is to find one that hasn't been pre-seasoned? Treasure those!

Joanna said...

Fantastic post, Linda. I love old things too. Did you know that Joe and I use the old fire burning stove in our house?? It cuts down on the cost of oil and makes the place smell great.

I also have this huge army pot of my grandfather's that can cook five pounds of pasta at once (although it's so big it sits over two burners). It comes in handy when my huge family comes by for a Sunday dinner :)

Here's to old things and to new--Happy 2010!!!

Linda Benson said...

Thanks Loretta and Jo - It's so cool to have something to keep from older generations. It's like a bridge to the past.

Happy New Year to you also, and may this be a Great Decade!!