When I was a young child, Ruth and Bill Fisher watched me and my brother for a few hours each afternoon. They were an older couple, probably in their fifties, and I loved them dearly. Endlessly kind, spunky, and patient, they were like surrogate grandparents to me: my own grandparents were either living in Utah, or just recently divorced (that family dynamic was a little strained, to say the least). But Ruth and Bill were there, day in, day out, every day after school—living proof of the kind of idyllic life of which I’d read in E.B. White books. Deep down, though, I think they provided the knowledge and security that my own parents’ marriage could not only survive that long, but continue as something lovely and wonderful.
Ruth and Bill lived just down the street from our little cul-de-sac. As I remember it, their small, white, frame house stood on what seemed like acres of land, but really it was probably more like half an acre. Regardless, their home was a sort of child’s paradise—the front yard was fenced neatly in white pickets, lined with rose bushes in every color imaginable. The windows on the north side of the house looked out on old orchard trees: cherry, apple, and maybe peach or pear. Under those trees was a wide expanse of lawn that was flood-irrigated in the summer, which to a child meant swimming on the lawn. The water would heat up in the sun, and we could usually discover clover or buttercups growing wild in the grass.
Behind the house lay the garden—on one side, flowers, and produce on the other. We weren’t supposed to go beyond the garden, but we liked to sneak behind it and watch “water-skeeters” skating across the canal. If we were feeling particularly adventurous, we’d cross the canal and go into the neighboring property and sneak raspberries.
The home itself was always neat and tidy, and smelled of something cooking. The walls were painted a light, sunny peach, and the doors bore cut-glass handles. The Fishers used a rotary phone and had their washer and dryer behind a partition in the large, blue farmhouse kitchen, because when the house was built, there was no such thing as a “laundry room.”
The kitchen was my favorite place. Ruth was an excellent cook, and she was usually to be found working in the kitchen: snapping beans, making pickles, peeling apples, canning something from the garden, or rolling out pie crust. I “helped” make all kinds of foods in that kitchen, and Ruth was a patient teacher. I also helped clean up after lots of meals. 🙂
It’s funny, but I didn’t realize until recently how much the time I spent in the Fishers’ home absorbed into my subconscious. Example: nearly every book I read that takes place in a white house/farm house/older house takes place, in my imagination, at the Fishers. Charlotte’s Web? Fishers’. Scarlett O’Hara’s Tara? Fishers’. Sookie Stackhouse? Fishers’.
Yesterday, I was dinking around online, procrastinating laundry or somesuch, and came across a photo of a milk glass vase. Something about it resonated with me, but I wasn’t sure what. I didn’t want it. I didn’t particularly love the design. But something inside me yanked sideways a little. So I started researching milk glass.
The more looking I did, the more I realized it wasn’t just milk glass I was after: I wanted blue opaque Depression glass. But…I still wasn’t sure why. Just that I liked it. I wanted some.
Then I found this:
And it hit me. OH. Ruth had some cups and saucers just like those. And a vase like the one that started this whole search. And you know what? I love those cups and saucers. For a whole lot of reasons, I think, but as much as anything, because I loved her.
So I bought them.
I think it’s time I got in touch with Ruth and Bill.