by Helen DePrima
Lately I find myself taking special pleasure in old treasures, not big things like jewelry or antiques from my mother’s family, but homely everyday items that bring back warm memories. I take my K-cups from the spatter-ware coffee pot that held my aunt’s tote tickets from Churchill Downs and sweeten my coffee from a green Ball jar bought on an antique rummage in Shelbyville, Kentucky with my cousins. Endless Summer hydrangeas nod from the hand-thrown pitcher my aunt and uncle brought my grandmother from the Smokies. I carried the start of the sweet autumn clematis frothing over my brick patio from my grandparents’ yard in a sandwich bag more than forty years ago.
But these are just things – stuff. I’ve also realized lately that old friendships need tending to survive. Last week my husband and I spent a wonderful few days in Castine, Maine, celebrating mutual fiftieth wedding anniversaries with friends from college, I in their wedding, my classmate in ours. Over the years, we somehow saw less and less of each other, finally only exchanging Christmas cards.
The time with our friends erased the years. We lingered over breakfast at the Manor Inn, strolled under ancient elms protected from disease by their remote location, and sailed the sunset waters of Penobscot Bay, all the while laughing over old memories, filling in the gaps of our separate lives, sharing hopes for the future. With luck and care, we won’t let fifty plus years of friendship languish again for want of cultivation.