My father, Albert Finlay, came home one day with a smile on his face ready for his lunch. He liked to have some liver fried up with onions and gravy, along with a potato or two. That topped with a raisin bun and a cup of tea and he thought he had it made!
I said to him “What’s that you have in your hand?” He was smiling ear to ear now. More of a smirk than a smile, I might add.
“It’s some kind of pottery, I think! I wonder how old it is,” Dad said.
I waited until he came into the kitchen to get a look. It was an earthenware container. It felt heavy in my hand but it was not cracked or chipped. I got excited that he had found it. The Earth was giving up its secrets!
“How cool is that! I love it. Let’s see the bottom of it. Lots of words here…”
Later that day, Dad said, “If you want it, take it. It doesn’t mean anything to me.”
Well, I couldn’t say no to this offer. He had dug it up while loading his truck with topsoil or gravel and had gotten off his loader when he eyed it, as it stood out from the soil. He didn’t want to break it.
I’ve kept it ever since and it’s been holding my Tetley teabags. And every time I look at it, I wonder about its history. Did one of the first settlers bring it with them, or one of the men who worked at cutting trees for Bowaters or mining the stone for the Deer Lake power station?
My father cared little for collecting anything. He didn’t wear any jewelry, not even a wedding band. He owned nothing he valued more than his equipment,which was used to do his work as a landscaper. Clothing meant nothing to him and often he let someone else buy him shirts or pants. I was fortunate enough to go shopping with him for his last two pairs of shoes. Of course, he owned only one pair at a time! So an old earthen vessel that he dug up from the soil meant little to him.
In the past five years I’ve collected pottery from all over the world but this piece of stoneware stands proudly in my cupboard, filled with teabags next to my bottles of honey, serving a purpose and also being a souvenir of my time in Pasadena. As I’ve said many times before this, it represents for me the generosity of a hardworking man!
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