Friday, January 27, 2012

Polishing the Silver - A Lost Art in Meditation

As a kid, when the holidays approached I would inevitably be coaxed into polishing the silver.  My mom would retrieve it from it's secret hiding place, safe from the threat of burglars where it lay nestled deeply in the hidden cubby of the antique icebox.  It was where, back in the day, the large chunks of ice were placed to keep the food cold.  The silver was in velvety deep purple-blue bags, clinking gently as it was pulled into the light.

Recently, I decided to polish the silver, for the first time as an adult.  A good twenty years have passed since I last polished silver, but my hands haven't forgotten the simple process.  Soft cloths, the acrid sweet smell of blue-gray polish, warm water and multiple dries - mustn't leave behind any spots!  In this modern day of paper towels and dishwashers, of speed and efficiency, I find that I don't mind the repetitious smoothing and cleansing of each piece.  As my hands clear the tarnish of years gone by, I can't help but imagine the weathered hands of relatives who have passed across each piece, deep in their own mental mediation, thinking perhaps of upcoming dinner guests.  I imagine the delicate foods planned and laboriously prepared, the finest meal creations available to a simple farming lifestyle.

And as I stand back and admire my handiwork, fingers dry and chalky from the polish, I think, "That'll do".

What simple chores free your mind from worries?

This post linked with:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

36 comments:

E @ Act Fast Chef said...

The silver looks great. I remember my dad always polishing silver pieces. I think he secretly enjoyed the repetitiveness and the quietness it brought.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I haven't ever tried to polish my mil's silver. I guess I should take a peek at it. We never use it.

My Journey With Candida said...

I used to have a silver bowl that was forever needing polished. So happy I got rid of it. LOL.... I guess I don't like to polish silver.

Kasey @ TFOMplus2 said...

We have my fil's family silver, but I'm ashamed to say I've never used it.

Oddly, I like scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees. I like being able to get into all the cracks that a mop can't. My knees are always sore afterward, but the process is like therapy. The only problem is that I want to banish the kids outside for awhile when I'm done. But then the inevitable spill happens within the first 20 minutes, and the moment passes!

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

This is something our family never did. Guess we did not use real silver. Hard to polish plastic.. LOL Just kidding. Looks like a time consuming job and I can see how it would give a girl satisfaction at seeing her silver sparkle. :-))

I do have a few silver pieces of jewelry that need polishing though.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

There is a mindset you have to acquire before you attack such a project -- but if you do, it can be an exercise in destressing.

Great post, Lisa! :)

The Incredible Woody said...

I'm like my Dad. We pull weeds:)

Michael said...

Really lovely meditation. For me, pulling weeds is similar, or raking leaves, or shoveling snow, though in such things the physical connection you express with previous generations is absent.

Grammy Goodwill said...

I had the same job as a child. Now I've inherited that silver while passing my own pattern on to my daughter. (I don't think she has ever polished anything.)Thanks for visiting me.

Gail said...

Piling brush is my silver polishing. Just something about being outside, doing simple manual labor, makes my soul feel good. Then to be able to stand back and see the BIG fruits of your labor...it's simply good.

Slamdunk said...

I can remember my mom have a pile of silver surrounding her in the dining room and polishing regularly. It is an excellent way to do something and see progress, yet also use the time for reflection.

Enjoy your weekend Lisa.

TexWisGirl said...

wow. this was great. brought back a few memories of my own, sitting at my mother's kitchen table with the set of old silver...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Pulling weeds is my zen.

Chatty Crone said...

Only if you have silver of course! sandie

Valerie said...

I love this Lisa! When you first told me about this I couldn't wait to read it and it was just simply a beautiful piece of writing. I like the way you describe how you use your hands during the process, and think of other hands that have touched each piece too. It's that connection to other people, in other times that make tasks like this so meaningful. I like to make bread like my grandma did. I can still see her arms and hands working hard to knead the dough!

I love your new profile picture-it's cute! And I'll write soon. I want to hear all about your luncheon:)

Jill said...

How very special, Lisa. You make me want to get out the silver and do a little polishing myself.

Out on the prairie said...

Lovely service, i haven't done this for years, I let mine go to one of my kids.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

I loved this, Lisa. It was so well worded and written and so real. I could feel your memories and the polishing experience. :)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

At my first wedding, I received all kinds of silver trays, dishes,etc. I also received fancy crystal and fancy china... I still have most of this ---but seldom used it. All of it is neatly packed away.

SO--I haven't polished my silver in over 10 yrs. Oh Well---maybe a grandchild will want it someday.

Sweeping is something I enjoy doing... Don't know why --but I do... ha ha

Hugs,
Betsy

Helene said...

Wow, look at how shiny your silver is!! We don't have any nice silver pieces though I remember my mom used to make me polish hers when I was younger any time I was being punished so it doesn't hold exactly great memories for me like it does for you!

Mrs. Beezy Bennett said...

We waited a smidgen too long between polishings. We had to put some oomph into it once special occasions rounded the bend.

camp and cottage living said...

Lisa
Your silver is gorgeous-I bet you do remember those days of past while rubbing away!
Usually any kind of handiwork is good for taking me away momentarily

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

The chore becomes a beauty, right before your eyes.
Cleaning the kitchen makes me feel good! maybe not a beauty?

Chris said...

You need to buy yourself a rod and reel Lisa. I'll pick you up about 4.30am ok?

The Print Blog said...

Your silverware looks great. I do not think I would have the patience to thoroughly polish each individual piece. For me I actually do not pulling the weeds in my backyard; it find it fun.

Michelle a.k.a. Farmchick said...

Running the vacuum around 3000 sq ft is my silver polishing.

Loretta said...

Lisa this reminds me, I need to do the same...I'm sure it needs to be done! I like working in my flowers!

Ginny said...

I like this, it's like meditation for you, quiet and soothing. My best friend just hired a woman to polish her silver and fix her china cabinet, this person goes to other people's houses and does it, she LOVES it! MY thing is straightening up and putting cabinets and drawers in order, everything all in it's own place where I can see and find it, it gives me such a THRILL! And I love the going through things and seeing more and more semblance of order.

Minnesota Matron said...

Dog park. Hands down.

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Haha- I just polished my mom in law silver with her last week. For some reason, it was so zen to me. I have no idea why!

cat said...

Beautiful!!!
For me it is ironing :-)

Sally said...

Love this, Lisa! A long forgotten art, and precious memories. :)

Myya said...

I remember doing this as a kid too. I wish I had a large enough dining room table to allow me to use my wedding china & shine my own silver.

Lexie Loo, Lily Boo, and Dylan Too! said...

I must say, I've never polished silver!
My favorite simple chore is laundry. It is so relaxing to me!

Tina said...

My mother never asked me to polish the silver. I think she liked doing it too much herself! I think she enjoyed the quiet time it gave her, and the instant results for her work.

She has given me her silver. It's tucked in its wooden box, unused. Maybe I should get it out and try polishing it. I'm always looking for ways to relax!

Kim said...

Sadly I don't have any fancy silver to polish. But I do enjoy laundry although I would never admit that to Shaune. I like the fresh smell of clean laundry and folding it the right way. If I had enough drawers in this house, I would say laundry was my great joy.