Monday, April 09, 2012

Buried Treasure

When my parents bought this house, in 1959, I used to love digging in the garden. There was always treasure to be found.

Our house was built in 1896 and belonged to a doctor. For a reason I have never understood, when the house was built a huge quantity of Victorian crockery was buried in the garden. There were lots of shiny hexagonal tiles. We had a dog then, a poodle called Fluffy (Okay, I know you're going "a POODLE? called FLUFFY? REALLY?" Look, it was the 1960s and everyone had poodles. Yes, I did choose the name, since you ask, and I was only seven when I chose it. No, it wasn't a very butch name for a male dog but he lived till he was sixteen and was very happy, okay?)

Anyway - - Fluffy loved the hexagonal tiles. One of his favourite things ever was to have a tile put on a flat surface. He would push it round in circles with his front paws, barking like crazy and wagging his tail like mad. Unfortunately he was never able to explain to us the exact appeal of this manoeuvre, but he loved every moment.

As well as the tiles, there were lots of pieces of several different Victorian dinner services, all delicate bone china with floral patterns. I loved finding and collecting all the various different pieces. How they got there we never did discover. Perhaps hurling crockery at each other on a spare patch of land was a little-known nineteenth-century sport.

The soil in the garden is great to dig in. My parents - and, in earlier days, my grandmother - have been making compost from all vegetable and fruit remnants for years and hence the soil is full of nutrients and easy to turn over.

A couple of days ago, I was planting a miniature willow tree. It had a lot of roots and I knew the hole would need to be over a foot deep, because I wanted to put some compost at the bottom of the hole too.

As I dug, I hit something hard. Half a brick! Yes, there have always been lots of old bricks to be found in the garden too. A bit more digging and something else hard - - another half-brick.

And then something else, really deep down at the bottom of the hole, with a slightly different feel to it.

Out it came - - and it was this.

Okay, it's not quite a Roman relic, but I did know exactly what it was. There are still a couple of letters visible on the label: MA - - - and the rest of the word would have been RMALADE.

I recognised the jar, because I would see a similar one every time I went upstairs to visit my Grandma - my mother's mother - who lived with us from 1959 until she died, age ninety-three, in 1992.

It was Rose's Lime Marmalade, which I don't much like - but she loved it and always had a jar of it on the go. The label's slightly different these days, but the jars seem just the same.

How it came to be buried relatively deeply - over a foot down - I'm not sure. Perhaps Grandma had a cutting of some plant in it and the jar got buried by mistake. But I loved finding it, because it made me think of her, and how she was out there in all weathers, much as my mother is now.

I'm the third generation of women to work in that garden, and I love that idea.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

I love the idea of you living in the house you have known all your life and I must say I feel quite envious about it. Everywhere there must be memories and a deep sense of belonging. In contrast, most people in the western world move around and grow distant from their roots.

1:48 pm  
Blogger Helsie said...

Here in Oz it would be very unusual to live in the same house as your parents did and even stranger if the house had once belonged to their parents. The only place where that might happen would be a farm where you might move from one residence( on the farm) to the next as parents died( but never into the same house ) and then the final destination might be the main homestead.As YP said we are a very mobile generation with shallow roots these days.

6:37 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Lovely story! If I had found the jar I might have imagined that the rest of the label read SSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER SCIENCE AND HOME ECONOMICS, though.

12:25 pm  

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