I began this latest move like every other one I’ve ever made – that is, with the very best of intentions. Inspired by the snippets I’d read of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, I zealously tackled the unfathomably large quantities of stuff I’ve acquired over the years. I returned things to their rightful owners. I found new homes for towering mountains of clothing, toys, and books. I filled dumpsters with load after load of trash. I carefully sorted and packed things away in boxes, neatly labelled with their contents. In the end, of course, as always happens despite my good intentions, I ran out of boxes and time and desperately began dumping drawers into plastic garbage bags and clearing surfaces by indiscriminately sweeping everything into buckets, shopping bags, laundry baskets, and garbage cans. Even after officially moving, we had to make a few trips back to the house to pick up things we had left behind in the rush. I am sadly resigned to the fact that it will probably take the next ten years to sort through all of those hastily filled buckets, bags, baskets, and cans…
Last week I went back to our old house, which is still on the market. There was one last thing I needed to get and it had been preying on my mind. Seventeen years ago, my mother-in-law came from England to visit us in our first house in Charlottesville. With the brio that only elderly women possess, she brought me plants from her own garden that she had dug up that morning and wrapped in tissue right before heading to the airport. They traveled in her purse across the Atlantic. She presented them to me with a flourish upon her arrival.
The primulas she brought me had been planted in the beautiful garden of my husband’s first home in Scotland.
When they moved to Manchester, they brought some to transplant to their garden there.
I planted my mother-in-law’s gift in the very first garden of our very first house.
When we moved to our next house, I divided it and brought it to our garden there.
There were many plants that I loved and nurtured for ten years in that garden…
but there was only one plant that I absolutely had to bring to our new house:
Once I’d dug up the primula, I decided to do a quick check of the kitchen drawer where we had stored batteries. I couldn’t remember packing them, and we desperately needed some at the new house. I opened the drawer, and there they were. A nagging thought occurred to me and I opened the drawer just below that one. There I discovered another gift from my mother-in-law – the family heirloom silver. Heavy silver forks engraved with the initials of my husband’s godmother, bone-handled knives, ladles with royal crests…
“Oops!” I thought to myself sheepishly as I pulled them all out of the drawer. I’m glad to have these, of course…but the real treasure is still my primula.