Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Power of Story

When my youngest daughter was about nine, we read Blue Willow together. I honestly don't remember too much about the plot. It wasn't a book that stayed with me the way it stayed with my daughter.

The main character, Janey, traveled with her migrant father and step-mother, living in poverty and longing for a real home. Her most prized possession was a Blue Willow plate. The book has a wonderfully sappy, happy ending that little girls love.

Sometime after reading the book, we were in an antique store and I showed her the Blue Willow plates stacked in an old hutch. We picked around until we found an uncracked dessert plate and made our purchase. The plate with the tiny blue bridge and the blue doves hung on her bedroom wall for years.

Gradually, we began to collect other pieces. A plate here and there. A cup and saucer. Some from England. Some from Japan. When she was about 12, we were in an antique store in North Carolina and stumbled upon a canister set. She wanted it so badly, she agreed that it would be her Christmas present that year. So we bought it and hid it away until December. It was a difficult Christmas for a twelve year old who had so many wants, but got her desired Blue Willow. And what does a twelve year old do with a canister set anyway?

She wrapped it carefully in newspaper, packed it in a box and stored it away.

For ten years.

That daughter has now graduated from college and has her first real job. Last weekend, we moved her to Mississippi and her first real apartment. She unpacked her box and set out her Blue Willow canister set on her kitchen counter.

I'm not sure what she remembers of Janey and her journey, but as my daughter begins her trek into independent adult life, she carries a bit of Blue Willow with her.

That's the power of story that every writer hopes to achieve.

1 comment:

  1. I bought a blue bottle at a street festival when I was a child. I didn't have the money for it, but my parents said they would buy it for me, but that I had to pay it back from my 15 cent a month allowance. It took more than a year. Just after it was paid off, it feel of a shelf and broke. I have been getting blue bottles for birthdays and Christmases ever since. I hope your daughter makes a good home with her blue willow canisters.