A ceramic cemetery in the swamp
After seven years in the same house, the longest I have abided in one abode in my adult life, the urge to clean out the corners hit last week.
If you don't move for a while, things start to accumulate.
Things like trinkets. Doo-dads. Gadgets. Cords. Books. Boxes.
Ceramics never die. As an enduring symbol of the 1970s, ceramics have outlasted polyester suits.
What are ceramics, those born since 1980 might ask?
Today, women make scrapbooks. Back in the 1970s, the crafty excuse for women to get together was to paint pre-molded ceramic statues of anything you could imagine and fire them in a kiln.
Nothing of any use came of ceramics class. It was nothing but a gabfest.
But ceramics classes in a few basements in the Upper Midwest did manage to fill all the other basements in the Upper Midwest with row upon row of sculptures that to this day need frequent dusting and de-webbing due to their glossy finish.
Each Christmas from 1972-1975 I was showered with ceramics from otherwise wonderful neighborhood women. Statuettes of Abraham Lincoln, of eagles, of a big boot.
Once I got a ceramic treasure chest. A dear nun who tried to teach me piano gave me a ceramic carriage.
I remember my disappointment when I tore open a box which contained a ceramic dog.
I would have much preferred a stuffed dog, one I could snuggle with at night.
Studies show that laboratory rats raised with a cold, hard ceramic dog in their cage are three times as likely to become an axe-murderer than rats raised in a cage with a soft, furry stuffed puppy.
Two decades later, my psychotherapist was about to give up on me.
Then he found out about the ceramic dog.
Things really moved along after I took a sledge-hammer to that dog. I am now well-adjusted, if a little cranky on cloudy days.
Yet, it never felt right to destroy the other ceramic doo-dads. Neighbor women near and dear to my heart gave them to me over the years. They all have passed on, so it feels irreverent to dispose of their gifts.
The afghans they crocheted eventually fell apart from use. So did the quilts. But the ceramics live on and on, serving no purpose but to gather cobwebs.
I now realize that the real purpose of ceramics class was not to come up with Christmas gifts for neighbor kids.
No, ceramics class was an excuse to get away from the old man one night per week for some good gossip!
With that purpose accomplished decades ago, I decided it was time to let go of the statues of ducks, boots and elves which gather dust on the hearth and every other flat surface throughout the house.
Yet, I couldn't just throw them out. The resounding thunk of those long-kept mementoes hitting the bottom of the dumpster might awaken some ghosts.
Here is where having a woods out back comes in so handy.
When you put something in the woods, you acknowledge that it has no further place in your daily life. You no longer have to dust it.
However, when you put an item in the woods, you do not have to admit to yourself or anybody else that you threw it out.
If you really need it someday, it will be there.
If you don't rediscover it, in five thousand years some archeologist will.
The little pothole out back is dried up this fall due to drought. With the water gone, the soft peat at the bottom of the pond is exposed.
What a perfect home for ceramic elves!
With little ceremony, I one-by-one tossed the statues high and deep towards the empty pond. I heard each hit the wet peat with a slap. None of them broke.
The doo-dads are safe there now, the elves and boots and the ceramic mug that I could never drink from because the paint was full of lead.
Also embedded in the swamp is the spotted ceramic frog that used to sit by the sink, mouth agape to hold the scrub sponge.
What better place for a ceramic frog than a swamp!
Future archeologists will probably assume that we worshipped the frog and the eagle, just as we assume that the junk in the tombs of Egypt has some significance.
Maybe the Egyptians were just cleaning house.
Rather than throw away their ceramic doo-dads and show disrespect to the women who made them in ceramics class, they tossed them in the pharaoh's tomb.
No need to dust them there!
(Visit Eric's weblog at http://countryscribe.com/blog)