What a lovely word.
I am not sure I will ever achieve the simpler life I longed for when we moved here. Life is too complicated and most of those complications come from the relationships with friends and family which create the web of love and responsibility without which I wouldn't be me. But things, what about things?
I have been amusing myself with a game of what I would keep if I could have only ten things to take with me from my house. The ten things don't have to be practical so you don't need to choose a washing machine or a table or a bed, although I suppose you could if any of these is a special version which gives you real pleasure. They are ten things that are personal to you, that mean something to you, that represent home. Imagine if you like that they are ten things which you would take with you as a 21st century pioneer, the things that would go into your trunk as you set off for a new life in Australia or the far West of America. They are the things that you would unpack when the trunk came out of the hold and you laid out on the table in the bare hut everything you had brought with you to make you feel at home, to make you feel like yourself. You can have all the photos you like on memory sticks or in albums and any mementos of family too so you don't have to count those in your ten things. These are domestic things, things from your present house that any house you live in would have to have in order for it to feel like home.
First I would need a jug. I love jugs and have lots on a shelf in the kitchen. It's hard to choose just one so I have whittled it down to two:
A beautiful Emma Bridgewater jug which makes any flowers look like an arrangement,
and this turquoise jug given to my by my sister on a rare trip away together to Ludlow. I love its colour and its simple, pure shape.
I would also want something from my collection of egg cups, probably these made by a potter in Devon called Abigail North.
I love the fact that they are not exactly the same. They are the perfect size for a boiled egg from one of our rescue hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust. Now the question is, do these eggcups count as two things? If they do, I would have to restrict myself to one and take the one on the left. Why? It just pleases me infinitesimally more.
And then what? This is quite hard! I would take my cushion knitted from the wool I bought in the Hebridean Woolshed last summer.
I blogged here about the deep satisfaction in making something to remind me of a place. This means something to me in so many ways: the memory of the place, the thought that went into designing the cushion, the playing with wool until I found out how to do what I wanted and the pleasure of seeing it emerge under the rhythm of the needles.
My knitting basket would have to come, for the basket itself which came from my parents' house, and for the contents, all the wool waiting to be made into things and all the remnants of earlier projects and then the work in progress, a simple cross over cardigan in cashmerino wool for the next arrival in the family, expected in August.
Is this cheating? Having the basket and the contents as one thing? Perhaps I will count the basket as one thing and the contents as another. Still pushing it a little I know.
I would have to have some pictures.
Virginia Woolf has been coming with me from house to house for twenty five years or more. It wouldn't feel like home without Virginia and I can't have her as part of photographs or family mementoes because she is neither.
Then it gets close to impossible. This house is full of pictures that I love. I have plumped at last for this "Bounding hare" by Marielle Ebner Rijke, an artist working in North Devon. We have hares up here, higher up than our house on the slopes of Penycloddiau. We have only ever seen one at a time though, not boxing hares but a sitting hare or a running one like this one. I love them and I also love Marielle's work in black and white and the fact that she lives and works on the north side of Dartmoor where my father and sister and her family live.
Then there is this mask which hangs on our bedroom wall. We bought in on a trip to Venice some years ago. We had not realised we were arriving in the middle of Carnevale and the weekend reverberated with music and the passing of masked strangers. The mask reminds me that life contains strangeness, travel, sensuality, that I am more than my domestic self.
And the last thing I think would be my mother's apron. I don't know if this comes under the heading of a personal memento but the apron is a domestic thing, kept with other aprons and teatowels and oven gloves. It fits me. Lots of aprons are too long in the body but my mother was small and I am a similar size. I don't wear it yet but I will sometime. I love it. I love its combination of the pretty and the useful and I love the way it ties me back to my mother and her mother before her.
I would love to know what ten things other people would take from their homes and why. It would also be fascinating to know if you found it easy or hard to do this. If you do decide to have a go please leave a link in the comment box so I can find you!