Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Golden Box

One night last week someone asked ‘what is the one precious object you’d never part with?’
Well, I can see it from where I sit. The cupboard, glass-fronted, tall with pale wooden shelving, holds many things. Endless crystal ware that has moved from one family crystal cabinet (remember those?) to another over the years; a posh silver jug that always seems to need cleaning when I think of using it; plates, French, with matching saucers and little wide cups, the kind you might use for hot chocolate or café au lait in a French farmhouse. Many things, all beautiful, mostly unused.
But here, right at the front, is my precious possession which I show to someone once in a while if the occasion is right. It is painted gold, a cardboard cube about the size of a teapot. Just a box really. It has a lid and a silk ribbon tied in a bow at the top. If you lift the lid carefully the whole box falls apart at the seams, to reveal – but wait. Let me go back.
We’re a bit soppy about dogs in our household, The Resident Songwriter and I. We measure our history in dogs. ‘That was when we had Phoebe and Grace’, ‘That was before Otto came’, ‘That was just after Vincie died’. Some years ago we had a different three dogs from those we have now, two spaniels and a small terrier-cross who thought he was a spaniel.

Tessa at Petrel Cove, S.A.
His role model was Tessa and I loved Tessa to a point which some may have thought excessive. When she died, after fifteen years of unconditional love between us, I really thought I may as well go too.
Friends understood and sent cards, emails, flowers and poems and one, Maureen, made me the gold box. When it was handed to me, unwrapped, I wondered what could possibly be inside that I might want, value or even care about at that stage. It was as light as air as I carried it to the table and sat down to open it.

When I lifted the lid all sides of the box fell open like some flower in time lapse photography. Inside, in meticulous handiwork, were multiple photos of Tessa. Each side displayed a tiny collage – Tessa at the beach, Tessa as a puppy, Tessa with me, Tessa sleeping, playing and scooting along on her belly on the green Spring grass. On the bottom of the box, a close-up of Tessa, ecstatic, long golden ears flying out behind in a sea wind somewhere.
Too beautiful for words, and the thought that someone would take such care to create this for me, at that time, still fills me with wonder.

Would I part with this treasure?
Let's just say that if our house was on fire
the golden box would be the first inanimate thing I'd rescue.
No contest.

~~ * ~~


  1. What an interesting question. And oddly I really have to think about it. I would have thought it should be obvious. I don't think the first thing I'd grab in a fire is not the answer to this question. That would be my computer because the organisation of my whole life is in there, but the most precious? Can I choose a set of things, like photo albums? Perhaps the de-cluttering throw out I am procrastinating about will reveal something special that I can't part with that I've forgotten for the time being.

  2. I imagine losing your computer in a fire might be a bit satisfying really. What a fresh start! Like cleaning a blackboard or throwing out all your old clothes.
    But I can see why she would save the golden box first. No contest indeed.

  3. I know this kind of box, a precious friend once made one for me. It opens as you describe but it is not as spectacularly special as yours is when open. It is made to function as a little sewing box with the four side for pins, needles, tiny scissors and some cottons. But you have given me an idea for creating one myself full of wonderful memories to share with a treasured person in my life. Thanks, Gaby

  4. What a great idea! I suspect it's a lot harder than it looks and I know what would happen if I tried to make one.........


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