Over the Christmas holiday a few weeks ago, we visited my mother-in-law and I accidentally stole one of her spoons.
I’d brought some flour with me to make bread, and I was measuring it out with a spoon and left it in my container, where it rode happily incognito all the way back to Ottawa with us.
It’s just an everyday spoon. My mother-in-law has a delightful collection of cutlery – no matched sets that require counting the silverware after big meals. Almost every one is one-of-a-kind, each with a distinctive design, and when we are there I like to imagine where they all came from. Perhaps filched from a restaurant here or there? Perhaps gathered from garage sales, with owners moving on to bigger and better things? Or maybe they’re all leftovers, odds and ends received as hand-me-downs from other families looking to upgrade to a complete set? There’s a myriad of owners behind the spoons and I can imagine a history for each one.
This particular spoon is my favourite, so I can’t even sell her on the fact that I took it by accident when I return it in a few weeks. I swear, I didn’t mean to do it, but maybe deep down, a part of me wanted a new little story for my own spoon drawer. This one has three sweet little flowers on the handle and I can imagine past owners who were gentle and kind and who loved to garden. It’s bigger than a typical teaspoon, but smaller than a tablespoon, making it the perfect size to drizzle honey onto your toast, or scoop up a generous mouthful of oatmeal. Maybe someone, once, used it at a picnic to eat potato salad. Maybe someone else, in the past, used it to mix the perfect amount of jam into a small bowl of yogurt, eaten dreamily at a window while waiting for something exciting to happen.
I always find that I am captivated by small, everyday objects like this. They are what trigger my creativity – thinking about the extraordinary thing that is an ordinary life. When my grandmother passed away, I didn’t want anything fancy, any collector items or silverware. I wanted her mixing bowls, the set she used in the kitchen everyday – pretty, rainbow-coloured ceramic bowls that nested inside each other and showed the scrapes and wear of years of baking. Now I use them everyday, and think of her each time, and that means more to me than the good linens or yes, the fancy matching cutlery set.
If I could have one thing to remember my mother-in-law by, it’d be this very spoon, the one that accidentally – on purpose? – came home with me. So perhaps the spoon will stay just a little longer, extend its adventure by just a few extra weeks, and create a whole new world of stories to tell before finding its way back home.