(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
Caught up in the New Year ritual of house cleaning, I swept through the house dusting, rearranging and organizing.
As I moved from room to room I let my mind wander as my hands worked. I began to notice that with every item I touched, there was an association. A memory. A link to a day recalled or an event to remember.
In the living room, on the table behind the sofa, I keep a large antique wood dough bowl my grandparents purchased decades ago. It is filled with agates I have picked up over the years on family trips - or the occasional solo escape - to the Oregon coast. Antlers my son found on our property and brought home to me rest on top of the stones, surrounding a single candle.
There is nothing rare or precious about the objects. But to me the arrangement is a shrine of sorts. Sometimes at the end of the day, as I move through the house turning off lights and locking doors, I stop to scoop up a handful of agates, letting them fall back into the bowl as I recall days spent in a little town on the coast, my daughters beside me as we walked along the shore taking the polished stones washed up by the tide. I run my fingers along the smooth surface of the antlers, remembering the boy who ran to me with the treasures he’d found, smiling as he presented his gifts.
I lit the candle and left it burning as I went about my chores, celebrating the comfort and satisfaction of keeping house; recognizing the blessing of shelter and a life filled with priceless and simple things.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com