Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Generational silver

Yesterday I lost a silver bangle. This doesn't upset me the way that it might if I had lost it on the street or at a friend's home, because of who made it and where I lost it.

My grandmother was an art teacher in a Midwestern high school. She drew Christmas cards for the family for over thirty years; she painted in oils and watercolor. She sculpted; there is a bronze bust of my grandfather that I remember seeing the clay maquette for. She also was a jewelry maker. One of my best memories from visiting her is sitting at the kitchen table next to her with a tiny blowtorch and bits of copper, enameling them with tiny bits of colored glass. She made us rings and pendants, and she made a silver bangle for me.

Originally, it was circular. I bent it to an oval so it wouldn't slip off easily, and it got banged and bent in the years I've worn it since. I stopped wearing a watch so I could wear both my old silver bracelet and this one. It's a gift she made out of love for her granddaughters.

This is one of the keys I have to remember her with, one of the signifiers that shows her hand on my life. It is either in the cabin or at the bottom of the lake. Had I lost it anywhere else, I would still be sniffling.

My grandmother's great-aunt Alta built this cabin. This woman, who introduced her art-student niece to one of her own students (upon returning from meeting my grandfather for the first time, she said "He has a nice laugh."), came to the lake in the early years of last century and decided she wanted a cottage in this spot. She had the cabin built and spent summers there; then, my grandmother brought her family here almost every summer after Papa returned from the war. And my mother and her sister have continued it; and their daughters as well.

This is a place built by women, handed down through women, even as men come with us and feast and chop firewood and play with the children and read. This is Tante's cabin, where my grandmother's jewelry-making tools are kept--the same ones she used for the bangle. This is a place of great safety and sanctuary, where I come to recharge every year.

I hope to find it again, but it is in the place where it was made. If it rests at the bottom of the lake, then it is offered from all the line of women as thank you to the spirit of this place. If it rests in the cabin, it is home.


At 9:49 PM, Blogger alto artist said...

Just beautiful. May it, and all those memories, enjoy their right and good place for all the days to come.

At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

What a beautiful post. You've given me a precious glimpse into her life, and into yours.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Nio said...

Peaks into the lives of our female kin are few and far between. How wonderful you are able to know your kin so intimately.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger CurrentConductor said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you lost it, but glad that it's still and always a part of a place so integrated into its origins.

And I'm so happy you have this blog, missy. :)


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