Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. William Morris
When my dad turned twenty-one, his younger sisters gave him a ceramic horse as a birthday present. They had work horses on the farm and dad liked to ride and work with them but it still seems like an unusual gift for a twenty-one year old farmer. Regardless, that horse has sat on a surface in the living room for seventy-three years-part of a panorama of figurines and vases that gets rearranged weekly as someone dusts. As a teenager, I composed little montages on each shelf during my interior decorator phase. The percheron stood solemnly amongst the flower pots and ceramic squirrels some weeks and other weeks it would form a display along with Suzette, a Royal Dolton figurine my mother got as a shower gift. At some point, perhaps when we were practicing handstands in the living room, the horse got knocked over and an ear had to be glued back on. Other than that, it remains intact. In these times when people strive to reduce clutter, the horse and the other occupants of the two armoires certainly are not useful in any typical way and some of them are decidedly not beautiful, but they remain nonetheless. They are conversation pieces and memory sparkers.
The other day, for example, I drove Dad up near the bridge over the Lillooet so he could get a little exercise on a relatively quiet road. We walked to the bridge and checked the water level, recorded the data in a little notebook stashed in the abutment, then returned to the vehicle. The field beside the road is the summer pasture for the horses of Blackcomb Sleighrides and one of these horses is a percheron. I remarked to Dad that it was just like the one back in the living room. “So it is,” he replied. We visited with the horses awhile before returning home where I took down the ceramic horse, placed it on the dining room table, and took a photo. The whole time, Dad reminisced about his sisters, the old farmstead and day to day life back in the thirties.
I think we’ll keep the clutter for awhile.