Milking stool, vinegar jug and candle mold

Ever wonder what artifacts will remain of your time here?

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My father, and his mother before him, were the custodians of a few items from my great grandparents and their families, now passed along to me. What strikes me is how personal they are. Simple household tools, made to last and used every day, they beg to be touched. No modern packaging has the tactile appeal of my great grandmother’s primitive vinegar jug. From family recipes like Switchel and potato salad handed down through the generations, I know vinegar was an important commodity in her kitchen.

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How precious would light be if your only source were candles you made yourself? Her candle mold would have been as important to them as any appliance in our homes today. No fine jewelry or furniture could tell me more about this woman than these tools she used regularly taking care of her home and family.

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One can almost see Uncle Burton Potter casually swinging the handmade milking stool in one hand and the milk pail in the other as he rose to go from one milking station the next. Clearly repaired several times with hand cut nails and scraps of feed bag, birch bark still clinging to the worm riddled wood, preserved for 100 years by the sweat and oil of a humble farmer’s hands and most likely a few decades of cow urine and barn muck, it has become the favorite perch of our three year old grandson, who swings it just as easily from its usual place by the fireplace to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

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And what will future generations know of us? They will certainly have more photographs and writings, but I wonder if anything from this culture of disposability will beg to be touched and speak of the dignity of hard work and convey anything of the person who touched it every day.

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About wisdomseason

Embracing both the hard scrabble self sufficiency and resilience of my ancestors and the burgeoning Information Age to help make family experience richer, healthier and happier. Maturity does not mean I cannot approach every day with the same excitement I felt as I swung my skinny legs over my bike on a summer morning, bag lunch in my basket, for a day of riding and hiking the woods and fields around my home in upstate New York or went blackberry picking in the heavy cicada song drenched afternoons at my grandmother's in Kentucky. Let's explore!
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One Response to Milking stool, vinegar jug and candle mold

  1. I love these “artifacts.” It indeed shows what kind of people you came from- hard workers. And that is instilled in you, I know, because you cherish everything that meant hard work, or had love put into it (like her taking care of her family with simple things, such as a candle mold). I only hope to eventually inherit awesome things like this, because I want to have a piece of my family and heritage. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Renee.

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