Sunday, May 19, 2013

Box of Delights

And who might this grim-looking crew be?  In fact, this is a picture taken to mark the Golden Wedding of my great-grandfather in 1926, pictured seated with his wife and surrounded by his seven children.  The mood certainly looks like a celebration, doesn't it?  The photo appeared in the local newspaper.

Family legend has it that the old man refused to change out of his clogs for the event, or the photo.  What his wife felt is not recorded, though doubtless after fifty years she was used to him. 

My great-grandfather was a farmer in Cumbria, but he was also a self-educated man, well-versed in the law.  In the attic of the farm where I was born remained part of his extensive library of second-hand books, history and non-fiction in the main, but with some collections of poetry.  I remember reading "Hiawatha" from a miniature Selected Longfellow.

 The story goes that as a youth he severed the ligaments in his ankle in an accident with a scythe.  They were on a remote farm, so his mother sewed him up with a sewing needle and in later life he walked with two sticks.    This did not stop him walking distances we would find unbelievable now, not as a sport but in order to visit the various cattle auctions.

The chap on the far right is my paternal grandfather, who was about thirty-nine at the time of the picture.  He looked very much like this when I knew him in his seventies.  On his feet he has a pair of stout boots, although he woould have worn clogs for every day, like his father.

I had never expected to see a photograph of my great-grandparents, but this one surfaced quite recently.  Perhaps someone also has an image of my maternal grandfather, a man I never met.

I thought I would share with you some images of the box I described in my last post.  This is a sycamore box, about a foot in each dimension.  Inset on each side are panels of silk, painted and embroidered, showing different natural scenes, possibly the four seasons.  This first one is definitely spring-like.

Or perhaps this increasingly green panel is Spring and the blue one Summer?

Here, the mood has changed to stormy.  The painting of the heron in flight is particularly dramatic.


And now all the colours are bleached and the bird has become a kestrel hovering.

I think these panels were embroidered by Meg Falconer, but I am not absolutely certain of that.

Inside the box are other containers, nestling one inside the other, like Russian dolls.  I won all this as a prize in 1983, and unpacking it was a revelation.



colleen said...

That photograph is absolutely wonderful - such rectitude.

I bought a pair of clogs in Penrith about 35 years ago and now wear them on the allotment. I do find that the smallest bump in the ground can turn my ankle though. I expect wearing them from a young age would have helped to do away with such weakness.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I love the photo !
" Oh all right I'll sit here just to humour you ... " .