a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Sep, 2007

May require a shadowbox

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!

There’s a series of three junk shops on the corner of Highway #7 and Marble Point Road in Marmora, near where my mother lives. (Just a few clicks away from the roundabout.)

I stop there whenever I’m visiting. Sometimes I walk away lucky, but most of the time I’m not lucky at all. There is no pretense here. The store doesn’t aspire to be something it’s not. In fact, there is an awful lot of crap here, and it’s hard to wade through it all. I cannot call this an antique shop. That would be a whole other brand. This is basically a group of indoor yard sales, except that part of the stock extends into the outdoors, and is therefore subject to the elements.

I have always avoided the outdoor section. Musty books and old lampshades don’t hold very much appeal for me. I never thought I’d find anything there. But this time, the outdoor section seemed larger than usual. A sign informed me that the stores were closing for the season �-? no reasonable offer will be refused!

My eyes ran across the detritus of people’s lives. Oh lor,’ it is ever depressing to think about the things we accumulate and hold dear, only to have them end up selling for deeply discounted prices on the side of the road.

I was looking at piles of old cutlery when I saw It. I picked it up and held it in my hand for awhile. It felt warm. I brought it inside to pay. I had no idea how much this item was going to cost me.

I held it up to the proprietress. She snorted with laughter. “Oh my,” she exclaimed. “Haven’t you found a treasure!”�=

There was a lot of sarcasm there.

I didn’t react. If I’m bargaining at a junk shop in which there are no prices printed on anything I don’t show love, don’t show fear, and don’t show extra interest outside of regular friendly behaviour. If I do, the price will change, and it won’t be in my favour.

I should mention that in addition to my finding, I also held a new bottle brush in my hand, something I needed to scrub the sticky bits tomato soup from the bottom of the Emma and Sarah’s thermoses. (What’s the plural of thermos? Thermii?)

“So how much?”

I didn’t actually say those words. My face said it for me.

The verdict came down: fifty cents for both.

As I handed her my change she took a closer look at what I had just bought.

“That thing must be 100 years old,” she clucked.

“Who knows?” I said. “I just like the story it tells.”

My 25-cent treasure is an old wooden spoon. One side of it is eroded by decades of stirring.

I bet it was the only mixing spoon its owner possessed. I bet she stirred hearty stews to warm her family on cold nights. I bet she stirred countless batches of custards, cookies and cakes (with or without eggs, depending on how the layers were doing), big batches of jellies and jams, filling for tourtiere, and maybe some Creton �= Maman to fill the tummy on chilly mornings.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much this person must have cooked in order to wear down a solid piece of wood like that. I like to think that it’s been worn by both love and hard work, misshapen by equal measures of joy and strain. How many times around the pot did it go? How many hours was it used?�=

I bet her hand wore this spoon like a comfortable old shoe.

Myself, I own four wooden spoons (not to mention two whisks, a blender, and a food processor). I really only use one of my four spoons. I think it used to belong to my grandmother. It calls to me when something needs stirring. Those other spoons, they just stand there in an old sugar jar, ignoring me and looking bored.

Our family spoon �-? which is likely on its third generation of use �-? isn’t perfectly straight anymore and leans slightly to one side. But sadly, it will never see as much lovin’ as the one I bought on in the junk shop at the side of the highway.

[I’ll see if I can get a good picture of it later today.]

3 Responses to "May require a shadowbox"

1 | VickiZ

September 27th, 2007 at 9:43 am


This entry made me think of this poem, about the sad and sweetly mundane things we leave behind:

Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead, by Kathleen Jamie

2 | andrea

September 27th, 2007 at 10:01 am


Great poem Vicki. Love it.

3 | Mary Lynn

September 28th, 2007 at 6:56 pm


I LOVE old worn wooden spoons. They smell like my bubie’s kitchen. I love how smooth they are, and the way they wear. Love em. Good purchase!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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