Monday, March 12, 2012

Wanting To Be Wanted



I rescue things.  From the time I was small, I knew this.  When I was seven, I discovered a stray egg beside the edge of our hayloft.  This was not uncommon as we had Guinea fowl amongst our flock of chickens and these fly quite well, thus roaming the ranch stealing grain from the goats and teasing the dogs.  Most evenings they would return to the hen yard, but every once in a while, we'd find an egg somewhere else. 

This particular time, I simply tossed the egg into a compost pile and kept heaving bales up onto the wheelbarrow to be taken to the horses.  Hours later, a casual glance caught movement in the pile.  Further inspection revealed the trembling egg had cracked....a tiny beak had forced it's way through.  Knowing that for an egg to hatch, it must be incubated by a dedicated mother for nearly a month and this rarely happens for a single egg; I found myself on my belly worming my way up beneath the hay barn, scraping my cheek on the gravel as I felt around in the dark for the nest.  My fingers brushed smooth shell and I wrapped my hand around the warm egg.

And then jerked back with a yelp when my finger was bitten.

We had huge black carpenter ants in Colorado, an inch long with jaws large enough to draw blood should they catch ahold of you. (I used to pick them up with my fingers, one by one, and let them clamp onto a piece of paper--so tightly that when I pulled them away it would pop their little heads off....imagine a piece of stationary with a whole row of ant heads along the top.  Slightly warped?  Me?)  After retrieving a pair of gloves and a flashlight from the house, I once again wiggled my way up to the nest and collected seven more eggs in various stages of hatching.  They were filled will hungry black ants tearing at the damp feathers and flesh of the hatchlings. 

I remember my mother's sigh as I burst into the kitchen, her eyes softening as she saw my distress.  She set aside her baking and we spent the next half an hour huddled over the eggs with tweezers, pulling the inky carnivorous insects from the fledgling peeps.  I nestled the still partially shelled eggs in a towel lined pie tin and my mother set the oven at 85*.  I knelt there on the floor for the next two hours, peering through the cracked door anxiously waiting for the chicks to emerge.  I have no idea why their mother abandoned them to such a terrible fate, but now, I wanted them to live like I never had before.

Six survived.  I named them all.  My favorite was Martha who followed me around like a puppy....well, until a distinctly passionate sermon about baptism.  (My mother wondered why the chickens ceased laying for a few weeks until I confessed I had made use of the horse trough in my desire to ensure heaven's acceptance of my feathered friends...ah, but that is another tale)

Now I have decades behind me of rescuing.  Sometimes kittens, sometimes people.  Furniture and coat racks and long forgotten paintings left in dark webby corners of old attics.  I almost feel they have voices, crying out to be wanted....by anyone. 

At times I fear this has been just my own projection...as I have felt the same so often.  I think most of us are created with this need to love...and be loved.  It's an ache that lies beneath the very foundation of our soul.  It causes us to be reckless, to dash headlong into madness flinging our reservations away as we pursue it.  And somehow, despite the catastrophes of the heart these ardent passions create.....after the anguish, we seek to be desired once more. 

Did the antique desk with the book shelf attached call my name as we passed it lonely on the sidewalk, its legs cracked and broken?  Perhaps.  Perhaps I just saw myself in it.  Last summer in the August heat, I bent over it, sawdust sticking to my arms and back as I smoothed out the edges with sandpaper, removing the bubbled finish.  I rubbed walnut warmth back into the old panels, stain tinging my my fingers. Carefully I cleaned the tarnish from the hinges and returned them to their divots.  My husband glued the legs back together and crouched in the grass, I covered the glue with pigment, masking the defects from all but the closest of inspections.

It now rests in the corner of our attic library.  A decanter of whiskey, several bottles of wine, and a selection of glasses fill its shelves.  Guests have marveled at it, amazed such a grand piece could be left out for rubbish.  In the same room is the poker table I made from the neighbor's weathered discard; the end console I resealed holds the chess set smuggled home from Guatemala wrapped in my suitcase clothing.  As I sit in the quiet, surrounded by hundreds of old books I've amassed, the room seems almost to breathe....the serenity tangible.

Once more, they are wanted.

.

31 comments:

Shrinky said...

Chantel, you weave such magic through your posts, I so love walking with you through them, as you never fail but to delight us, each and every time. I love this attic library of yours, it sounds quirky and charming, just like you!

Oh, those horrible ants (shudder), I am always amazed to be reminded there are real live biting, stinging, poisonus critters outside, that can seriously damage folk (worst we have here is the odd wasp)! Just adored that image of you being worshipfully followed around by that later grown chick, ylu rescued (smile)..

BamaTrav said...

I see you.

Shea Goff said...

Beautiful.

mermaid gallery said...

The warmth of your nest shines through.........so many homes are cold with decor from some sterile store.....or worse...not decorated and loved at all. Our personal history should enrich our homes and lives.....the depth of your surroundings defines your life.....Your home sounds lovely.....

Out on the prairie said...

I enjoyed this tale.I see a number of things on the curb and wonder why they are being thrown away.I have been working on a story of people and possesions and now have a bit of a push to use.

terlee said...

Great story--not only about rescuing the chicks, but the furniture in your library as well. There's just something wonderful about saving a bit of castoff rubbish, and giving it a second chance.

Robbie Grey said...

That fantastic. Growing up on a farm, I can relate to saving an abandoned offspring. And, well, there are some grand adventures and great finds to be had dumpster-diving, as evidenced here.

Maddy said...

It would have been great if you rescued the perfect vintage with the wine with the glasses, but I'm sure you found the perfect one to accompany it anyhow. Cheers!

Maddy said...

Oh...my daughter's signed in...this is Marie from Rock The Kasbah.

Slyde said...

beautifully written.

To this day, i associate human characteristics to even inamimate objects. I remember when i was 7 and i cried because my mother was pulling up our old carpet for a new carpet, and i felt bad for the old one.

i still feel guilty when i throw something out that ive gotten alot of use out of...

Chantel said...

Shrinky--Ah love, I think you and I would be smashing neighbors...

BamaTrav--that's not allowed.

Shea Goff--thank you.

Mermaid--I couldn't agree with you more, I'm leading a lifelong campaign against white walls!

Prairie--sounds like an interesting story, share when you're finished?

Terlee--creating new life can be addicting, I might need to set up shop soon! (you should see the 1890 ornate pedal organ we turned into a bar in our dining room!)

Robbie--oh, the mystic draw of "big trash night" here once a month, I do admit to cruising the streets a bit...

Marie--we throw a soup party every fall and last year had 138 guests and the night left me with 87 empty bottles! lol Oh, the vintages I've tasted!

Slyde--thank you. I love the image of a little boy weeping at carpet removal; especially as such a thing is actually quite a violent process, all of the slashing, jerking and pulling...

I find I take more to good will now than I toss, just can't take that guilt.

Pearl said...

Such a wistful post.

Nicely written.

Pearl

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I love this post, and I'm imagining your wonderful home...a warm and charming place.

Mandy_Fish said...

I wish I knew how to save/fix things.

Peaceful Warrior said...

Like you I hate throwing things out with a passion so use car boot sales (garage sales) to recycle what I have no actual use for. I love fixing things and like you seem to be a dab hand at restoration which is something very cathartic and healing. I hope that when I am old I won't be thrown out, but properly recycled...

Hugs to you for your comment.
Powerful thought provoking posts keep them up.
P.W.

Chantel said...

Pearl--love that you caught that...and thank you.

Bliss--I so hope it is, everyone needs a haven, right?

Mandy--glue is magic, sweat can make miracles.....and some things are beyond repair.

Warrior--restoration is indeed dabbling in rebirth, new beginings are amazing.

Mel Heth said...

Gorgeous post. I love the idea of inanimate objects feeling wanted.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...i am very similar, a rescuer...the story of the chicks pulled at my heart...its why i do counseling...and why sometimes (most days) it breaks my heart...that need to feel wanted is strong...

Mobius said...

There is something godly in fixing.

Sarah Kate said...

My heart is breaking wide open for your 7-year-old self. It's nice to recognize that as much as we change throughout the years, integral parts of ourselves still remain the same. You're still a "saver of the unwanted". I think that's one of the reasons I like you so much. :o) That, and you're one heck of a storyteller.

Mary said...

That was such a sweet tale. I've always rescued things as well which is why we ended up with 17 hamsters, rats, and gerbils for a few years when the kids in the neighborhood asked if I would take their pets when they no longer wanted them. *Sigh* and I loved everyone of them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog...I love your blog, I'm still looking around.

The Empress said...

I had to laugh.
I'm sorry, but it was laughter through the joy of finding someone like me.

My husband says I do this with people.

I can't help it.

They're just so frail.

I love your posts.

Camille Griffiths said...

I'm a bleeding hearts for the unwanted animals too... And even books and furniture. I think they have more character:)

le Chef said...

I'm convinced things find US. Pets, books, old furniture. And I absolutely love that they do.

The fact you have an attic library with wine in it .... well that's just .. just dreamy. ;)
I would sell my firstborn for one of those. I've always dreamed of a cozy little attic hideaway.
Somehow it's perfect and right that you have one.

Saturday Sadie said...

Do you remember the IKEA commercial from a few years ago? The storyline followed the life of a desk lamp, which was eventually and easily replaced by a faboo new IKEA model. The old lamp was ultimately left out in the rain for curbside rubbish collection. The narrator then chastises the audience with a parting shot something along the lines of, "You feel bad for the lamp?! It is just a lamp!"

But I did feel bad for the lamp! Step off, meany ol' Mr. Narrator Guy! Poor lamp...

It's never just a lamp, is it? Or a desk. Or a clutch of abandoned chickies. Not for rescuers like us!

Wonderful post. So warm and detailed. I could have curled up for hours and read more. =)

Gina Gao said...

This is a wonderful post! I really enjoy reading your writing.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Chantel said...

Mel--it makes the whole world seem a bit warmer, doesn't it?

Brian--wanting to be wanted...it has altered my life.

Mobius--totally agree.

Sarah Kate--lol Thank you!!

Mary--oh my, you have a small zoo! That's what rescuing can do... :)

Empress--thank you, and I know exactly what you mean, I have as many needy souls as I have refurbished chairs!!

Camille--me too, real personality can be found in aged wood and tarnished silver, don't you think?

Chef Jess--come visit one day, we'll sip wine with the windows open and play old records...

Sadie--I felt SO bad for that poor lamp!! lol No, it's never just a lamp. (and thank you!)

Gina--thank you!

Anthony said...

That is pretty cool....and I used to do strange things to ants as well when I child (like pulling their heads off).

Slyde said...

you made me write about this today.

see? im thinking about you even when youre not here...

Julie said...

I loved this story...it made me smile. Especially the part about saving the little chicks. I've been the same way all my life. That's how I got my little kitty Momma's Boy. =)

Julie
http://julies-thisandthat.blogspot.com/

P.S. Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. I really appreciate it <3

Lo said...

I just found your blogsite and I love this post and your ways.

I, too, am a rescuer of discarded critters and objects. We share a lot. I will be back often to get your latest thoughts.

Please visit me at "It's Always
Something" .....

http://loisstearns.blogspot.com