What makes china fine
Packing up mom’s possessions can mean a rediscovery of life’s simple pleasures, such as solid and generous friends, sipping tea from flower-like cups, and tiny little plates used solely for butter.
By Louise Crosby
My mother was raised on a farm in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, near the town of Aylesford. She attended Acadia University in nearby Wolfville, where she met my Dad. They got married in 1949 and proceeded to have four children as they made their way west and settled in Ontario. Mom is now 89 years old and, following the death of our father, Ron, earlier this year, she is about to sell their home and move into a seniors’ residence.
Her name is Leila Kathleen. Her sister is Iona, their mother was Etta, and she had aunts named Marjorie and Mabel. She came out of a farm culture, where people made do, lived simply, and held to strong values. She painted watercolours and taught piano, and was a wonderful mother, sweet and full of Maritime friendliness. She may not understand computers and cellphones, but as a giving, loving, genuine rock-solid human being, she surpasses most people in what really matters.
As my mother clears out her home in preparation for moving, she is giving away a lot of her things. There are her many watercolours and photographs, furniture and books, old woollen blankets, lamps and tools, even an antique, hand-cranked eggbeater. There is also beautiful old china, much of which, I’m thrilled to say, is coming to me: exquisite little butter patties used back in the day when each person at the table had their own pat of butter; demi-tasses; cups and saucers and, of course, pretty plates, including the one on this blog’s masthead. They have been handed down from my great-great grandmother to my grandmother to my mother, and now to me, and I will cherish them until it’s time to pass them on again.
Many of Mom’s dishes are “flow blue,” a term used to describe ceramics decorated with blue underglaze designs that “bleed” or “flow” into the white body of the piece when the glaze is fired in the kiln. The patterns appear smudged or blurred rather than sharp and clear. This method of decorating ceramics originated in the Staffordshire district of England in the late 1820s.
You might have guessed by now that there is no recipe in today’s blog post, just this ode to Leila and and her butter patties and a celebration of a time when people sipped tea from cups that looked like flowers, and served sandwiches and cakes on individual works of art.
THE EX-PRESS, October 28, 2015