Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lost Things

I have just finished reading a book on my kindle – but before I tell you anything about the book, just let me tell you about my kindle cover!

I had knitted a cover, a purple creation with cables and wonderful striped buttons. Sadly, I lost it somewhere – actually that could be quite relevant to the book that I have just read. My sister, Mags, dug through a drawer and found a cover replacement – not plastic, but thick stretchy fabric, the kind of fabric that might make up a swim suit for a well-padded lady to reign in all the flabby bits. There was an orange lady on the front. It did the job and I hadn’t yet thought about knitting a new cover. A group of young ladies completing a textile and fabric course were showing their wares – stuff sewn, pillows, dresses, waistcoats…and kindle/I-pad covers. I asked the tutor if any of the girls would be willing to sell me a cover for my kindle.  A couple of the girls came knocking at my door later on in the day. We didn’t exactly haggle – she possibly might have given it away but I paid a fair price. It’s pink and padded with a heart on a front pocket. It’s good! I can now drop my kindle from a great height, not that I would, and my kindle is safe.

Back to the book – “The Keeper of Lost Things” by Ruth Hogan. I won’t tell you any spoilers. The start of the story, I suppose, is a man losing two precious things. The first is his fiancé to a road accident. The second is a gold medallion that his fiancé had given to him, that he promised always to keep, but it slipped out of his pocket. He never recovers from the loss of either and would like to stay beneath the blankets of his bed. A friend rouses him and persuades him that life is still worth living. He begins to collect lost things – a button, an umbrella, a jigsaw puzzle piece and fills up the shelves and the drawers of his study with all these items making a careful note of when and where he found them. The intention is to find the owners and reunite them with their last property.

A quick aside about lost things. My husband recently lost his walking stick. It’s not the first time. I am a familiar face at the lost property office of the police station. No one it seems hands in walking sticks. We have replaced more than a few. This particular stick had lasted a long time. Then it was lost. A friend at work described Joe without his walking stick as “Bambi on ice”. Imagine his surprise then while waiting at a taxi office for a ride when a driver of another taxi, a different company, pulls up, jumps out, waves the lost walking stick with the words, “Sir, Sir, I have been looking for you…”

Back to the book. So the book is really a collection of short tales about the owners of the lost items and how they came to lose them. The different people meet and their paths cross, and all the characters are so well written. It’s a lovely book. The last couple of chapters made me cry.

Having read the book, I felt the urge to go for a walk, much as he did, and try to find something lost. Fetching the Sunday papers from the co-op seemed to fit the bill. I chose not to take a direct route but walk the path around the estate. There was little to be gleaned in the things lost and I had to resort to poetic licence to claim anything significant.

There were a lot of cigarette butts and bottle tops and the occasional scattering of a broken bottle. The council hadn’t weeded the path so it looked somewhat neglected. I picked up a torn page from a notebook which had a picture of a horse drawn on to it in red ink. I folded it up and put it in my pocket.

I passed dogs and dog owners. Some owners were in the process of losing their patience as the dog stopped at every tree and lamp post along the path to sniff and lift a leg. One dog had lost his freedom to bark, or bite, his face muzzled. Another dog was just on the verge of losing his puppy cuteness.

Trees were losing their blossom to the wind and I walked beneath a shower of confetti. Daffodils and tulips were losing their spring newness. A girl on a swing was never in danger of losing a ball she clutched in her palm. A heron beside the burn lost the grip gravity had on him and flapping long wings lifted into the air.

It was a nice walk, perhaps made nicer because I wasn’t head down, marching forward, but looking about me, eyes searching everywhere. There was nothing lost to claim, to reunite with an owner. There was the folded paper in my pocket, but it wasn’t anyone’s masterpiece. Perhaps I lost a few of my inner cobwebs.

Loosing and finding – I was reminded of a different day, a different walk to a different co-op. It was cold and frosty, the ground beneath my feet satisfyingly crunchy. There was no gate as such out of the field, just a hole. Beside the hole, slipped into the chinks of the wire fencing was a pair of glasses. They were kid-sized, NHS coloured plastic frames. Had I read the book at that point I might have tucked them into a pocket. I thought about writing a short story explaining the events leading up to the glasses being abandoned in such a way. I have met too many young people, yes, even been one of them once upon a time, who resent having to wear glasses, hate being called four eyes, when they clearly had just the two. I would never have had the courage to leave mine anywhere – it would be risking life and limb with just blurred blobs in front of me. And facing my mother without them? Risking life and limb, indeed.

I have a feeling that had Jesus been walking with me today he would have found plenty of lost things. He would have noticed the heron, and the blossom, and the various dogs – but I think he would have noticed the lost people.

Some forty years ago, a different day, a different walk, not particularly to a co-op, He found me – as lost as they come. He didn’t quite tuck me into His pocket, but he took me home to His Father. I have rarely been lost ever since!

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