Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Teapot

I can't look at a teapot without remembering the smell of firewood, hearing the crackling of a wood stove, and feeling a chill in the air.

My grandfather built a little one-room cabin in the mountains where his grandchildren could play in the summer.  Evenings were often chilly.  Mom would delegate one of us to bring in a supply of wood from the wood pile, and she would light the wood stove. The wood stove heated the water in the water tank, but it was a small tank and there were always lots of children to bathe.  So the old silver teapot sat on the back of the wood stove to heat water to put in the washtub to bathe children.

Mom was very modest, so a shower curtain was carefully hung around the washtub.  I hated that shower curtain.  There is nothing as shocking to the system as the wind whipping a cold wet piece of plastic against your backside.

Babies were bathed in the kitchen sink with nice warm water.  My father loved to watch babies get bathed.  He would turn on the cold water faucet to barely a drip and watch the babies play with that cold water drip.  He would chuckle and giggle, and the babies loved it.

I can still see the flicker of the fire on the wall of the cabin.  The walls were rough unfinished boards.  I can hear the roar of the fire in my ears.  I can hear Mom saying, "Somebody better go put the water pipe back in the water box before this water heater is a missile."  My grandfather built his own water system with a box in the creek (or "crick") that had screens filtering the water.  It was pure genius except the deer often pulled the water pipe out of the box as they crossed the "crick."  If there wasn't water flowing into the water heater, then the wood stove was making it's own bomb. Countless times I put my boots on, grabbed a flashlight, and headed for the water box to shove the pipe back in the box.

Bath time was always the prelude for our nightly game of hearts. No one plays hearts dirtier than my family!  Laughter echoed through the canyon often until way past all our bedtimes.  We taught my little sister how to play solitaire when she was about four years old so that she wouldn't be in our hair for the heart games.

All those memories--and more--flash through my head at the sight of a teapot.  Teapots are a warm reminder of a very lovely childhood.

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