When Cousin Mary Frances broke up household in her later years, somehow I ended up with her dishes. (I used to think Cousin Mary Frances' first name was Cousin.) They were made by Frankoma, a pottery company in Oklahoma which took inspiration from nature, Native American arts, and the warm earth tones of the southwest. Frankoma dishes feel good. The cream pitcher fits so perfectly in the hollow of your hand that you want to hold it even after your coffee is swirling with white; the coffee cups have fun little ribs on the handles right where your thumb sits. The serving dishes are full-bellied, satisfying things. I love those dishes, and it's obvious that Cousin Mary Frances did, too. Some of them are chipped or have flaws in the glaze. The finish on the dinner plates is almost worn away in places. But that's all right. Many a good, southern meal of chicken and gravy with biscuits and greens and mashed potatoes was enjoyed on those plates. They aren't pristine antiques or fine china, but good heirloom dishes—dishes that are meant to be used.
Pristine is a rare quality around here these days. Untouched autumn scenes—at least in my garden—only exist at a distance.
|The view all the way across the garden's long diagonal.|
Close up, though, you see just how used everything looks. The leaf-cutter bees have had a busy year.
They've been at the flowers, too.
|Blackfoot daisies (Melampodium leucanthum)|
That's all right and proper, though, just like the brown leaf edges left over from the heat of July, and all the little tears made by one wind storm or another, and the transparent skeletons carved by the leaf rollers. No matter what gardeners prefer, leaves and flowers aren't meant by nature to be fine china, kept in the cupboard behind glass doors and looked at, except for when the right company comes over. They're meant for everyday ware. At the end of a long season, they look like many a good meal has been had from them. They're crazed and chipped and cracked. They're dinged up from weathering and wear and tear. But that's all right.
They were meant to be used.