Magpie Tales Photo Prompt No. 1 - "Roots of Home"

The most enchanting lady blogger, "Willow", has started Magpie Tales. Every Tuesday writers may post a poem or fictional story to go with a photo prompt that Willow provides each week. Check out http://magpietales.blogspot.com/ to sign up. Also visit "Life at Willow Manor" http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/ Awarded the "Blog of Note" in February 2008, with almost 250,000 visitors since!

Magpie Tales Photo Pompt No. 1:

"Roots of Home"

For fifty years I had looked at that pitcher, always in the same spot, never used, certainly never touched by children. It occurred to me that I was going to be the one to disrupt that long settlement, those many decades of dust, and change its history. The only thing I did know was that the pitcher came with our rambling Victorian house in the Berkshires.

As I grew up, I was surrounded by many treasures that lived permanently in their chosen areas, but that pitcher had a prominent place in the heart of the house – the kitchen. No one could miss the massive floor to ceiling cupboard, filled with a collection of pewter and silver items; the pitcher standing proud right in the middle. Most likely it was put on display shortly after the house was finished in 1898 when my great grandparents moved into that fifteen room monstrosity.

My mom was a huge advocate of “spring and fall cleaning”, thoroughly scrubbing, washing, and dusting everything in sight. I can picture her in a tidy apron over her housedress, a scarf tied around her head, and the ever present bobby socks and Hush Puppy shoes. Music was a given in our house and she would pile records on the stereo and go to work, singing all day, making the chores fun. In the midst of all the waxing and oiling of antique furniture, she would tell me what history she knew of the piece, or how she had acquired something, but I never recall any story about that pitcher.

At a milestone in my own life, I had the arduous task of emptying out the big house and the contents, as well as listing it for sale - the first time in one hundred ten years it would be leaving our family. It tore at my heart as I packed box after box, room after room, filled with decisions whether to keep this or toss that, donate, save, who might want it? This was my whole childhood, and throughout my adult life it was the place that was always there, where I could go home again.

A house filled with memories and all these items I had looked at for fifty years; things I would never know the history of now. As I lifted the pitcher to my wrapping table, a brittle, yellowed roll of paper fell out. It was a handwritten note to a family relative from Paul Revere asking her to accept this gift as a token of his affection. He wished her good health and prosperity in her new life in the wilderness of Massachusetts.

That little pitcher now sits on the middle shelf of my corner hutch; it has a prominent place in my heart, gleaming in all its glory. I can feel the women of many generations when I hold it in my hands. I marvel at the fact that once it reached our tiny village it never left - just as I never left - bound by strong family roots, history and home.

©2010 Janice Stiles-Boults


  1. Don't you love to find little hidden bits of historical ephemera tucked away behind a picture frame or hidden in a book? Lovely piece of writing.

  2. Visiting the prompts from Willow. I didn't participate this time... but looked forward to visiting.

    I loved your take on this... beautiful images.

  3. Beautifully written, S D Hill. And Revere was probably responsible for that etched design.

  4. A lovely story -- I think many of us hold dear some family treasure (how exciting to have such a provenance!)

  5. What a treat to find a fellow Berkshireite in the blogging world! This was a marvelous read.

  6. love that...when you can hold things and conjure the spirits that held it before you...nice.

  7. Paul Revere! That lucky young woman. Such strong roots and story. Nicely told.

  8. My post also was focused on Massachusetts; I grew up in Deerfield.A Wild Patience..

  9. I love the reminiscent tone you set. Wonderful piece!

  10. I love the atmosphere in this piece; lovely writing!

  11. The first piece I started to write was about Paul Revere! I can really "see" what you're telling..full of many truths, I think.
    Also, used to visit the Berkshire Festival every year..love the area!

  12. The sentiment in your story is one many of us must share: That the "things" surrounding us tell stories, evoke memories, and give definition to our lives. Very comforting!

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your kind words! I'm looking forward to visiting your Graveyards of New Marlborough site. My aunt and I have always enjoyed old graveyards, and often laugh that we must be the strangest members of our family. LOL...


  13. You set a sad but comforting timbre in your story....and told it so well.

  14. Loved that idea of a long forgotten note falling out -- that was the real treasure -- the treasure of the heart and what these old keepsakes really stand for...

    PS I love Thoreau -- went to Walden Pond and sat at the remains of the threshold and you can still feel the love he left behind..


  15. Thanks folks for all the lovely comments on this first Magpie Tale adventure! Unfortunately I somehow deleted them all :(