Thursday, February 11, 2010

Knife Rests

I hear we had snow flurries early this morning; I am glad I did not have the drapes open in time to see them. The cold temps and tedious drab skies are enough for me today. Winter wears thin after six weeks or so, especially if there is no sun. The sun’s radiance on clean, bright snow makes bearing winter possible, but skies the color of a deep water submarine or battleship leave one feeling like they suffer battle fatigue!

Since we have not even reached Ash Wednesday yet, it seemed a little too early to be bringing out bunnies, eggs and baby chicks. But yesterday I gave in to putting away the last silk poinsettias and red tablecloths. Out came the silk lilacs while waiting on the real ones to even show a bud, and I searched for all the dazzling yellows and spring-like purples I could find. Once I had flipped on a new navy tablecloth and set out a garden of placemats, my knife rests showed up in a new light.

I don’t know exactly when or why I took to wanting to collect knife rests because no one has used them since the 1960’s; I never saw them used at home, and I am not a collector of crystal or glassware. But somewhere I picked up a glistening knife rest that spoke to me, and the hunt was on for more. Knife rests were used as early as the 1700’s for the very simple reason of keeping a dirty knife off the tablecloth. They could be wooden, horn, pottery, crystal, or any material and design that elevated the dirty knife. Since the first one I picked was a clear glass or crystal, I wanted to stay in that mood of material and design.

But I was surprised when I could not find more knife rest of any kind around me. I could order online, but it the hunt that makes collections fun, not just ownership. On a tour of Kentucky, my one “bring on home” item was to find a new knife rest, an affordable one. I just knew this land of antiques, Kentucky Derby, fine homes, great food and Southern lifestyles would yield an interesting piece. I was surprised to find nothing. Finally, just before crossing the border into Missouri at Cadiz, I found a whole set. The town was loaded with antiques and flea markets, but only one place had a set for four knife rests. They were marked down from the original price but still very pricey. They did not want to break the set and sell just one. I thought and walked and thought. I had just sold a poem that would pay for the entire set, but while on this trip, the bottom was falling out of the stock market. Finally, I decided if I were headed to financial disaster, I would take four nice knife rests with me!

Sometime later, a friend learned about my knife rests. She had two of slightly different sizes that she had inherited. She wanted me to have them. How generous she was! How thrilling to find two more similar to my own. They are lovely and perfect when added to my others. Two more showed up in a flea market in southern Missouri. In an Arkansas store, I found a master knife rest, one that would be at the head of the table, but I chose to walk away from that one.

I probably have enough knife rests now since I rarely use them. Large dinners are rare here anymore; our friends and we favor a good fire pit with hotdogs or chili supper. I do enjoy seeing them out resting on the table though, watch them pick up the light and share their beauty. Sometimes I pass by, pick one up feeling the weight in my hand, and wonder at what table they sat at before mine. What meals did they see, what conversations did they hear? What secrets could they tell if only they could speak instead of glow!

1 comment:

BECKY said...

Claudia, what a lovely and unique collection! I hadn't seen or thought of knife rests in eons. You're right, too....they don't seem to even be in antique stores anymore. Well, you know since you've shared this littel secret with your blogger friends, we'll all be keeping our eyes open for them! And what a beautiful centerpiece...looks very "springy" to me! I need to do that same. One last thing. It also reminds me of that scene in Pollyanna, with all the crystals glistening and shining in the sunlight!