birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Corner Cupboard

The matching pair of cherry corner cupboards have been background scenery in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandmother probably purchased them long before I was born and I know that she treasured them. One of the cupboard now occupies a place of honor in my new home, although its twin is gathering dust in the garage.
The Corner Cupboard in my kitchen, like its banished mate, has three open shelves and two shaker-style doors below the shelves attached by copper colored hinges. Each door has a perfectly matched round cherry knob about an inch and a half in diameter. An attractive scalloped border frames the top shelf but my favorite part of the cupboard is the wooden latch that turns 90 degrees vertically to allow the doors to open or horizontally to keep the doors shut tight.

When I was a child and my grandparents lived in the lodge-style house on Longview Beach high above the Ohio River, the matched set of cupboards stood like sentinels in the far end of their dining room. Later when they moved into town, the corner cupboards occupied a place of honor in their front room displaying her prized milk-glass collection.
Ownership of the cupboard transitioned to me probably when my widowed grandmother broke her hip and moved into a nursing home near my parents in Indianapolis although the details of that transaction are fuzzy. Perhaps my parents gave them to me when they moved either to Indianapolis or later to Tucson. I know I have always felt like I didn’t actually own them but was instead a kind of foster-owner, keeping them safe for the next generation in line.

Until now I haven’t had the right space for them so they have resided in one basement after another, holding duck decoys and billiard paraphernalia in my husband’s man cave. But in our new kitchen in Maryland, at least one of the cupboards has found a real home. I sentimentally display old pieces of blue crockery and blue willow ware that belonged to my grandmother and some other great-great relative whose name I have never known. Some of the plates depict an Asian scene, a pagoda, a stream, trees and flowers. While predominately blue, these small plates also are glazed with maroon and emerald green pigments. The other plates celebrate a variety of scenes rural life in 19th century England.

When we were anticipating our recent move, I considered selling one because I knew there was no room in the new house for both. But after keeping them together for so many years, I couldn’t bring myself to permanently separate them. I remain their trustee not their owner. Someday they will be able to occupy the same room again.