Bright eyed dolls in satin dresses, a tiny bed hidden beneath a zoo of stuffed animals, crisp white linens that smell like outside, books that tell of a thousand adventures….while these might not make Julie Andrew’s list of her favourite things, they are most certainly at the very top of mine. Little treasures that are amassed over a childhood, carefully chosen and thoughtfully placed, all come together like an eclectic little village to create the perfect place to be a little girl. Or a fairy princess. Or a toadlet. A place where dreams are woven, stories shared, and imagination explored. A special place where all that was needed to keep the closet ogre at bay was a blanket that reached over your head.
Thanks for joining us today as we continue our series “The Antiques Toad Show“, with a play date in an antique bedroom furnished in enough bric-a-brac to make any fairy princess proud. We were very lucky to have access to the Metchosin Pioneer Museum, thanks to our very good friend who just happens to be the curator of this wonderful little place. Many of the artifacts have been donated by local families over the years to collectively bring us a taste of what it was like to live more than a hundred years ago in this pastoral community.
So let’s put on our best patent leather shoes and our fanciest dresses and head back to a time when dragons were real, anyone could be royalty, and magic was always possible as long as you had your canister of fairy dust in your pocket!
This very well could have been my bedroom when I was growing up, which just proves that little girls have always been the same no matter how far back we go. Now, just to clear up any misconceptions regarding my age, I would like to say in my defense that the little white pot under the bed was fortunately absent in my room. However, the rest is not that different. It didn’t matter at all what others considered to be treasure, suffice it to say that we all had our own idea of what made the cut and ended up on the bedstand. For some it was dolls made of fine china with whimsically painted faces, or dainty jewels stored in a box that played music when you peeked inside to see if the ballerina still danced when the top was closed. And while these things are undeniably wonderful, there are really two things that stand out for me from my tadpole years.
Just like this little girl, I loved doll carriages. I loved dolls as well, and had plenty of them, but I loved frogs and toads even more, so usually the babies in my carriage were green and bumpy and when well-meaning grown-ups, muttering the usual niceties in the appropriate “isn’t that sweet” tone pulled the blanket back to see the “baby”, well, let’s just say it usually didn’t end well.
The other priceless treasure I remember with much love was the hand crocheted bedspread my mother made for me one year. She worked tirelessly on that blanket, carefully stitching together a million squares with bulbous roses in the middle until I finally had my own rose garden stretching across my bed in a vibrant sea of orange and red and gold. It was heavy enough to flatten my toes, but it also kept the monster who lived under the bed firmly in his place.
This antique toy just goes to prove that kids will be kids, no matter where, or when, they live. This paint set is reminiscent of the one I used to have, where great masterpieces could be created with a brush and a little water, swirled over a crusty piece of clay-like substance that would suddenly and magically turn into red, yellow, green, blue and purple. Unique works of art that would run down your arm and onto your clothes, some even making it on to the paper that would majestically hang on the refrigerator and drip onto the kitchen floor. Yet nonetheless, a beaming mother with her face full of delight would plant a kiss on your forehead and swear that a prettier picture had never existed and never would. At least until the next one.
And who doesn’t have a favourite story that was read so many times that eventually the book was redundant except for the pictures? Tales of adventure, of romance and chivalry, of castles and dragons and faraway places. Between these pages were found the seeds of imagination, of endless possibility and dreams that really did come true. Images that danced in your head and took on a life of their own as the lights dimmed and your head sank into the pillow, fueled with a palette of ideas for tomorrow’s escapades.
Alas, it is said that youth is wasted on the young, but I must respectfully disagree. Just like our many varied treasures, it is something carefully crafted and woven, pieced lovingly together with great care and intention, preserved forever in the aging hearts and minds of those brave enough to never walk past a waiting swing in the playground.
Thank you so much for your visit, I hope we can get together again soon and find some new things to explore. Until then I must hang up my roller skates and put away my crayons and pretend to be a grown up once again. Just so you know, no frogs or toads were harmed in the making of my childhood, and were promptly and gently returned to their homes after their carriage rides with kiss on the nose! And while not one of them ever magically turned into a prince, I eventually found a prince who magically turned into my perfect toad when I kissed him on the nose.
Until next time!