Today’s bright spring weather deteriorated this afternoon, as the wind picked up and temperatures plummeted. I had begun resetting the front porch, changing the décor over to spring. Driven indoors, yet undeterred, I switched my efforts to creating fresh spring vignettes.
A vignette is made by grouping items together to create a pleasing arrangement or to tell a story. This is a high level of playing for me. Using a mix of old and new pieces, keepsakes and sale items from craft stores, putting together a vignette is like working a puzzle without knowing what the finished picture looks like.
The creation process is done by trying out various pieces and moving them around until I am satisfied. I enjoy using what I have on hand and rarely buy new items to complete a display. While I put a great deal of thought into this form of artistic play, I stay open to inspiration and Divine guidance.
That state of openness brought about today’s chain of events.
On the little table by the front door, I created an Easter themed vignette on the top surface. This display is similar to the one I put together last year, using vintage hankies formed into rosettes and a couple of porcelain pieces from Greg’s mother Leta.
As I studied the table’s empty bottom shelf, I decided to create a totally new vignette. The fun began.
I quickly selected several other small porcelain Easter pieces that also belonged to Greg’s mother. Rummaging in my closet, where keepsakes and craft supplies are stored, I deliberated between a dark green taper and a burgandy one. The burgandy candle brought out the same darker color painted on the rabbit candle holder and the little bunny bell. Perfect.
That color proved to be significant. As I tried out other items with the trio of Easter pieces, I kept getting a “no”. Nothing was coming together. Standing quietly, allowing ideas to flow to me, I saw in my mind a plate in the empty corner, resting on a stand. But which plate? The burgandy candle was sparking a memory. I had a plate with that color on it.
In a drawer, carefully swaddled in bubble wrap, I uncovered the plate. My heart rate increased, alerting me that I was headed in the right direction. This plate has a hand written note on the back. Walter Davidson, born in 1880, was Leta’s father. He gave the plate to Leta’s mother, Ada Barnes, before they were married.
Researching the mark on the back, I discovered the keepsake is a rare, Prussian made Royal Rudolstadt Beyer & Boch floral plate, approximately 110 years old. I almost wrapped the plate back up, to return it to the drawer for safekeeping. But that’s not me. I like to carefully display and use items. What joy do these treasures bring, hidden away in a drawer?
I completed the spring vignette, using Walter’s gift to Ada, and it looks beautiful. I gaze at the plate and tremble a bit, because…110 years old! I’ll leave it on display for a short time, before returning the plate to its protective cocoon.
As so often happens, I am amazed and delighted at the way the Divine invites me to play. However, the wonder didn’t stop there.
Pictured above are Walter and Ada Davidson, photographed in the late 1930s. They are Leta’s parents, Greg’s grandparents and our children’s great-grandparents. Years ago, as we researched Greg’s family history, we could find very little about Walter. We knew his parents were born in England and nothing more…no names, dates or siblings.
Searching for Walter and Ada’s wedding date online, I came across info on ancestry.com.uk that led me to Walter and his parents. Excited, but needing to write a blog post, I turned the search over to Greg. Amazingly, in a short amount of time, he found Walter’s parents and their parents, all born in England.
In addition, Walter’s brother, Alvin Davidson, moved to Joplin, Missouri, by 1921 at least, as he lost two young children here that year. Alvin and all three of his children are buried in Joplin. We will be visiting their graves.
How incredible. What began as an afternoon of creating spring vignettes using vintage items became an unexpected pathway to discovering new family members, and new stories.
Walter’s gift to Ada opened that door. I am grateful…and excited to see where this journey leads.