Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Button Box...conclusion

She rubbed tarnish off the small thing, using the inside of her skirt and waited.

Grandma closed her chamber door, lowered herself back into the rocker carefully and handed her a circle.

"You might as well have it. You might get it mended someday."

The small piece fitted perfectly, and matched the other snake head.

A bracelet, the kind you twisted sideways to slide on your wrist.

Way too big for her skinny wrist, but she liked it.

She liked the collars the double heads wore. She like the way they looked content, sleeping. She liked the smooth plainess of it.

"Who's was it, Grandma? Where did it come from?"

Granma picked up her knitting and resumed her slow rock.

"My great-aunt Seraph's. That plant in the window with the pink flowers began with her. She married a Calhoun from St. Martin's. He was a sea captain."

Grandma counted rows.

She waited. Seraph was a funny name.

"They had no children. She always wore starched white aprons and pantalettes - those are long-legged bloomers, down to the ankles. There's a story that one day in the garden a squirrel ran up her leg."

Grandma chuckled and added red yarn to her knitting for the final band.

When she was twelve she tried to write a story about the bracelet, just like Nancy Drew.

She called it "The Secret of the Snake Bracelet." She got as far as three pages.

One time when they went to town she took the bracelet to the jeweller to mend. He mended it so nicely one could not tell it had been broken. He said the silver was very soft.

Grandma died when she was a thousand miles away and could not get home. She sometimes wondered where the button box had gone.

One day she met a girl from Sweden. Her name was Sigred. Sigrid wore a bracelet that matched exactly the one Grandma had given her.

Sigrid said it had been in her family for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Note: The picture above is of an eleventh century arm ring.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, I have to say I'm so glad you IDed that picture, because I was turning my head around from side to side trying to figure it out.

Bernita said...

Sorry, Sandra.
It's the best one I could find and doesn't really resemble mine - which is not inlaid with niello like this - except for the collar.

Savannah Jordan said...

I love the ties to history and jewelry, Bernita. And I like that Sigred had one just the same. So much left unsaid, such a wealth of backstory hinted at with one simple para.

Great job!

Dennie McDonald said...

You put so much info in such a short piece - I love the bit about the squirrel -- it just gives it so much more flavor! Good job!

Bernita said...

Thank you Savannah and Dennie.
Not so difficult when re-counting a true storyand those are the only facts one has.

Erik Ivan James said...

From my perspective, the strongest writing is that of Grandma and her knitting. Those brief descriptions binds everything together, from beginning to end.

It is all very good, very descriptive and visual. To me though, Grandma and her knitting is the anchor which makes the rest of the story possible.

Well done, Bernita.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Erik.
Yes, Grandma is the link in the chain, in the trivia of centuries.

James Goodman said...

Nicely done, Bernita.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Why don't you take a picture of yours and let us see...!

Those are the only facts that you know??? Oh, pooh...I was hoping for more to the mystery...Are you going to create satisfy my curiousity about two identical bracelets!!!

Bernita said...

Thank you, James.

Sorry you're disappointed, Bonnie.
I think he gave it to her as a kind of betrothal gift.
It was a shcok to see its twin.
Read last night that rings with two serpent heads pointing opposite ways were a common Scandanavian motif for wedding rings in the 1800's, if not before - the ubiquitous silver arm ring shrunken over the centuries but the design remaining.

For The Trees said...

Beautiful writing, but again, split up for obscure reasons. I had to copy out the three posts and paste them all into one document so I could read it all the way through at once. There's a lot more to it, that way.

Brought back a lot of memories of my grandma. And the button box I didn't get. (See comment on first button box installment.)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Forrest.Glad you liked it.
Obscure reasons?
Thought I explained...

Sometimes it's the little injustices that are remembered and hurt the longest.

Gabriele C. said...

Beautiful little tale.

Nothing so interesting in my grandma's button box.

I want that 11th century arm ring, btw. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Gabriele, hope you were not disapointed.

It is a fancy one, isn't it? Most of the hack silver hoard types are much simpler. I think this one is in the National Antiquities Museum in Stockholm.

Lady M said...

Well - ya - you should take a pic of yours - that would be awesome!

Very intriguing story - like a snip of time... hurtled through a memory.

Hugs darlin'

Lady M

Bernita said...

Hugs back, Lady M.

Unfortunately, unlike Jason, I'm not a photographer - I'm the sort who often gets their thumb over the lens.
Once I was getting down from the bleachers to get pictures of my daughter's graduation parade from milcol and the best picture is of my delicate foot.
Might try someday though.

Lady M said...


Delicate foot? Woohoo!

You know - in some circles you could get some serious cash for that one!

Still - if you get a chance - put it gently on a white sheet - or a black velvet cloth or something. Get good lighting and voila! Snap!

You might even surprise yourself.

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