. . . a cut glass basket.
I first admired the glass basket when dating a tall, dark and handsome young man. I had been invited to his house for a Sunday dinner. The basket sat in the middle of the dining room table and held an arrangement of flowers from his mother’s garden.
Over the years, after marrying the young man and growing a family of our own, there were many meals around the table with the basket often serving as a centerpiece. When not in use, it sat upon the buffet, sometimes holding bits and pieces of whatever needed a place to rest. Other times it lingered, rather like a lady-in-waiting.
“Yes, m’lady, allow me to assist with those flowers”.
My mother-in-law, Carolyn, was an accomplished gardener, well-equipped with the knowledge and common sense that came from her childhood years on the farm, and equally equipped with an innate sense of flower arranging. These were not the lavish bouquets we see today, but, instead, cuttings and snippets of flowers she grew – and needed trimming.
Carolyn was a teacher, then became a school principal. She taught in one of the last small, country schoolhouses in Cook County (think one-room school), and eventually became a principal of several schools in her career; an interesting and commendable journey for a girl who was raised on a farm during the Great Depression. She was the product of the rural, public school system of this country. While encouraged by teachers to go on to college, she was admonished by her grandfather to stay home. She was, after all, a girl and would only get married, have children – and quit. It would be a waste of time.
Carolyn persevered. She earned her teaching degree and taught. Her first contract would be rendered void if she married – and she did marry. The war years came, then children arrived – and so did the 1950’s. She went back to teaching, then returned to school for an administrative degree.
The years went by, as they do in life, and the time came when my in-law’s house needed to be cleared out, then sold. It was at this time that the glass basket came to be mine. It has followed me from our first home to the one we now live in. While I always treasured it, my appreciation has grown as I have, in my own endeavors.
I had a bouquet arranged for the glass basket and used it for a celebratory gathering on the night I won a seat on my local Board of Education. It seemed like the thing to do, following the trail of proponents of public education. I also ventured forth and made my own arrangements in the basket when each of our daughters married. By then, thanks to the internet and Ebay, I was able to determine that this type of cut glass basket was common in the area my mother-in-law came from. Then, one day, not long after the last wedding, while looking through an old scrapbook of Carolyn’s, a wedding album typical of time and place, I found it listed! Gift- glass wedding basket.
The basket is now three-quarters of a century old. It is most often found on the old chifferobe, which is also from the old house that sat on the acreage Tom’s descendants homesteaded. I cherish the basket and I use it. It holds flowers, especially in Autumn when the grasses mimic the flow of the vase, but, I also employ it in winter when colored glass balls twinkle through the glass, or in Spring, with colored Easter eggs. Bouquets come in all sorts of ways and with varied materials, as does life, I think.
This glass basket is a simple treasure that holds complex memories of times gone by and hopes of times to come.
A sincere thank you to Marilyn who asked me tell about the vase.