In science we learn that nothing ever disappears. Ever. It only changes shape. Burn something and it turns to ashes. Smash the ashes and they turn to dust. Blow the dust and it disappears, not actually. It disperses, thins out, yet remains. Humankind records history. It is our diorama. We like to coil it up and play it on through again and again. Each of us whether we want to or not is/was/are/will be a portrayed somewhere in this evolving documentary.
We are at an estate sale. The elderly couple had been married for sixty-seven years! As my wife peruses the gorgeous dinnerware I wander over to the library. My wife looks at me knowingly, it is where I am drawn. The bookshelves line the entire room from top to bottom and all four walls. The smell of old well-cared for tomes reaches my nostrils and I am in heaven. Only those who covet, love, admire, exalt in scenes like this will understand. There is an original book by James Corbett about the drama of shooting a man-eating leopard in India. Siddartha, Steppenwolf, The Ascent of Man, The Iliad,The Adventures of Augie March,…The Naked and the Dead, The Third Ingredient, Of Mice and Men, Poe, Bradbury, Frost, Hart, London, Cather, Tolstoy, Garcia, Faulkner, Hemingway,Tolkien, Edwin R. Murrow, Ernie Pyle, The Crying of Lot 49, Peyton Place…
I looked around me and noticed I was the only one in the room. I spied a comfortable well-used leather-covered chaise lounge and sitting down I devoted my thoughts to those that had wrought this fantastic space. I thought about my childhood and reading Mark Twain, Jim Kjelgaard, etc. and of my own children whom I had brought up reading Winnie-the-Pooh and Doctor Seuss and Maurice Sendak, but who now get their entertainment from the net.
It was then that I spotted the oval-shaped silver platter. On its shiny surface were two tiny cups, a small sugar bowl, two small platters and a minuscule salt and pepper set. A small note on the tray stated that this set had been given to the married couple related to this estate sale by the grooms father. The set was over 100 years old and had just been discovered in a trunk in the attic.
I sprinkled 100 year old salt on my eggs and 100 year old pepper on my hash browns and fantasized about what, perhaps, the two married people had been thinking or feeling if they had done so, oh so long ago. What had the world been like then? What had it seemed like then? No computers, cell phones, copiers, oh all of the stuff we have now and yet take for granted and still await even smaller and more technical advances.
I thought and thought for a long time. I searched my inner soul. I read and re-read magazine articles and newspaper accounts dated from that long ago era. I just wondered and wondered what really had transpired after the salt-and-pepper shaker had been filled and used. What? War, famine, disease, political despots,…the Iron Chef?
If the previous owners of this old salt-and-pepper shaker had been anything like my parents the woman would have laughed and laughed and the man would have wanted to know who was responsible for all this fuss?