I had just wrapped up yet another Algebra 2 lesson with one of my students and was walking with her to the front door when she suddenly stopped in the middle of my living room. Gesturing to her right, she said, "I just love this."
I looked where she pointed.
From the bottom up, I saw
- My childhood collection of what we always called "albums" but now sound way cooler as "vinyl"
- A low-budget turntable handed off to me by my oldest and a ten-year-old Bose player loaded up with my 2006 iPod.
- A Swedish ivy and a cactus who showed up for the bright patch of sunshine.
- And a large and small pair of bright yellow hex boxes circa 2012 from Hobby Lobby.
Over the years, I've changed the contents of those yellow shelves a hundred times, never quite satisfied, but I suddenly realized that that seemed to be the focus of my student's observation.
Oh, my elephants.
I do kind of have a thing for elephant figures. Some are collected, some gifted, they are sprinkled all around the house. But yes, a fair number of them have migrated here to the yellow cubbies and as my student pointed out, they have a certain charm.
^ Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I was milling around the thrift store, shaking my brain loose from its usual patterns as only a mill around the thrift store can, when I saw this fellow.
A stone elephant.
I knew we were destined to be together.
^ So I brought him home and added him to the herd.
Or, I should say, her.
My elephants are mostly girls. I'm all about the matriarchs.
^ Here she stands, welcomed to the group by two ornate ladies that my mother-in-law brought home from India and kept in her own collection of miniatures for many years before they came to me.
See the gold wire wrapped around the newcomer's head? Attached to that is a tiny carved elephant that a freshman year dorm mate bought for me when I positively drooled over hers. The gold necklace and clasp on which it was originally hung have long since faded into history, but the tiny charm remains, and I treasure it beyond reason.
^ If I had taken these photos a week ago, the plant in this white elephant planter would have looked quite different, long green tendrils gracefully reaching up and trailing down.
Then we had a week of sunshine and the poor little plant died of either surprise or dehydration. Well, as you can see, she didn't completely die but lost over half her leaves to this freakishly unnatural phenomenon.
Sunshine in winter is quite a shock to all our systems.
The glass elephant at the planter's feet came to me seven years ago, a gift from my two younger daughters that they found on a visit to Dale Chihuly's Museum of Glass in Tacoma. I cherish the little rascal.
^ The lower, smaller shelf is home to a brass baby that I found several summers ago on a different trip to the thrift store. I immediately fell in love with her because she feels substantial and heavy in the hand, which is a pleasing feature for an elephant. But her right front and back legs are slightly shorter than her left, and I quickly discovered that this fatal flaw caused her to tip over. Unfailingly.
But I brought her home anyway and fixed her up with a tiny bit of that sticky putty business that normally affixes posters to dorm room walls. Fatal flaw no more.
^ And so it was that I stood in front of my elephants again today and fell in love all over again with each one of them, tucked into their cozy and freshly cleaned yellow home.
^ And you better believe that when my student comes back tomorrow, I'll be sure to introduce her to my new elephant.