I have this thing with wine corks.
To anyone who has spent more than ten to fifteen minutes around me, this should come as no great surprise. After a lifetime of hording them (that’s a lot of corks, y’all), I had this epiphany tonight. So here’s a little diatribe about the things we keep and the things we give away, and the way decorating can sometimes blend with warm memories to make a house a home.
So, I have this tendency to impulsively grab wine corks from dinners, gatherings and everyday moments. If I’m in public, I look around sheepishly as I ferret them into my purse. Occasionally my husband is a willing accomplice, handing the cork to me before the waiter swipes it away… and (many) other times he rolls his eyes.
Tonight, I started dumping some of those corks into a run-of-the-mill candle holder that needed a little pep. Here it is, looking very meh.
And all of a sudden, that candle holder became so much more.
A vessel for our memories, all jostled together and bathed in the warm glow of candlelight and softened by the consumption of wine and the passage of time.
The high end and the low end, the exotic and the mediocre: all nestled one next to the other.
09.08.97 ~ Night before France
Some come with the sharp punch in the gut of a clear memory, others are hazy and the ink is fading or the descriptions – well, nondescript.
09.04.06 Mom, Jo, Beth ~ Lorenzillo’s, Cancun
There are champagne corks from the predictable holidays (Christmas morning mimosas ’11), and champagne corks from a random Tuesday night or Sunday brunch, unlabeled and with their tails tucked.
Debacle of ’07
Synthetic corks mingle with aging, crumbling corks. Certain everyday wines appear with great frequency, ostensibly adopted from the French tradition of vin de table, or table wine – the stuff that flows like quotidian water with no need for an occasion.
07.01.11 Beth & Fred date night ~ Petit Bistro, Bentonville AR
There are the victorious celebrations of life’s everyday wins:
11.24.09 Fred & Beth ~ Finishing media room remodel, Rogers AR
Followed by long dry spells on corks after realizing a few short weeks later that baby #2 was on the way, and that aforementioned media room would soon become a nursery and it would be a long while before life returned to its grape-infused normalcy.
08.11.11 Fred & Beth ~ Fern Avenue, Long Lake ~ Chain O’ Lakes, Waupaca WI
Wines from France, Arkansas, Washington and Spain are juxtaposed against the shamelessly and desperately purchased cheap stuff from a corner gas station in places far from home.
04.25.08 Mom, Dad, Jo, Fred, Beth ~ $2.97 Oak Leaf, Family Reunion, Brenham TX
The monumental events and occasions are all layered in with the everyday – and equally epic – moments.
08.14.11 Night before second grade! Risotto & much excitement.
09.28.04 Jo’s First House!
The memories of the early days when we were first dating mingle sanguinely next to the remnants of comfortable glasses shared after hikes well into our marriage.
10.05.96 Jefferson TX
07.07.07 Beth & Fred after Hemmed-In Hollow ~ Steel Creek, Buffalo National River
Some have dates and details, others are lost in the thinly-veiled humor of the moment with the writing all goofy and wobbly from our shared snickering.
The night in the kitchen with the mad skills (remodeling & dreaming).
And as it turns out, I rest my case… that’s why I keep the corks.
Someday our girls will throw them out because the ink will have faded and the vessel will be full of cobwebs cloaking our memories. At the very least, they’ll know – as I did – that their parents valued connecting with one another and carved out many, many nights to sit and sip and shoot the breeze, and that is where the real magic happens.
And for now, they make me smile when I walk through the room. The memories float up and envelop me when I strike a match and hold the flame to the candle, examining them and keeping them illuminated just a little longer.