Springtime Thoughts and a Story About Handkerchiefs
There was a week this month when the sun was out and we were out with it. We soaked up the soft spring rays as we raked autumn remains from our yard, covering ourselves with dust and dirt. We picnicked one day (and the day after) throwing Karimojong blankets on our patchy stretch of grass and napping in the warm light.
I dabbled in dirt and fancied myself a real earth lover that week, planting bulbs and herbs and making an impressive amount of springtime mess. (The truth is, however, that the basil is already dead and the daffodils have been hanging their heads quite low lately).
Since those wonderfully warm moments of bright April air, the view from where I sit has turned rather grey. The sun is playing hard to get, it seems.
And so I've moved back inside and have been sorting through life, because, the truth is, I am starting to work again in May, and so this season of so much free time is suddenly coming to an end.
Today, I found the handkerchief that has been missing. The one I had meant to wrap 'round my bouquet last May. The girls, all five bridesmaids, were meant to wrap handkerchiefs around their flowers too, but we forgot them all back at the house when we left for the church. A mistake born from too much excitement.
Three years ago Melissa and I were in Italy. After most of a week in Venice we spent spent much of a Saturday at the island of Murano watching artists blow glass figurines out of fire. As twilight approached we caught the water taxi to the nearby island of Burano, the home of richly coloured houses and the makers of fine lace. We wandered the streets, hugging our coats close against the November chill, and in the low light of the evening, we found a small shop with an open doorway.
An old woman with white hair sat hunched over a table, stitching lace to the corner of a handkerchief and rocking her chair to the heavy metal music coming from her small radio. The music seemed inconsistent with the scene, but she beckoned for us to come in and so we entered.
The handkerchiefs were neatly folded and stacked in a wicker basket and Melissa and I each bought several. We bought enough for ourselves, our sisters, and perhaps a few extra bridesmaids. We were just nineteen, but had had enough long conversations on train rides to have discussed this idea in length already. And so we purchased the hankies with what few euros we had left, tucking them into our pockets, careful not to crush the lace wrapped in tissue paper.
Two years later, with a real wedding party in mind, I asked a friend studying abroad to pick me up a few extra handkerchiefs when she visited Burano. I mailed her a handful of Euros, leftovers of a different trip, and she brought me back the needed extra. Two years later, they were still wrapped in tissue paper and twine.
Today I found mine. Tucked behind in box in the back of a drawer rarely opened.
I'm glad to have it back. For even if I do not have any wedding memories associated with it, I remember that day on Burano. The day we bought the lace from an old lady listening to heavy metal.