Recently I have
developed a new obsession taken up a new hobby and I am going to inflict a ramble about it on you share it with you.
We love to go camping out in the bush here in Victoria and no matter where we go there will be traces of people who lived there long ago. We always find broken bits of china, glass and scraps of metal that show that people didn’t just wander through on their way to somewhere else, they actually lived in that place for a time.
These fragments of habitation are so numerous that Number 2 son has amassed quite a collection of small china pieces, bringing them home to be carefully cleaned with an old toothbrush. He has become so well-known for this collection that friends and other campers in our group will save bits they find in their travels for later delivery.
We always wonder how the items of crockery managed to make their way out into the middle of nowhere and how they were broken. Was there a mischievious child who knocked it off a table or were the tired hands of a hardworked woman responsible? Of course there could have been an annoying husband whose head it was aimed at too! I would love to know the stories behind their existence.
This interest in stray bits of lives lived long ago has led to our bathroom window ledge starting to collect old bottles*. It is not often that we come across intact ones in our travels so I have little hope of expanding my collection by serendipitous means, but this post is about my favourite, and the most battered, member of my collection, and the one who started it all.
It is a milk glass cold cream jar, probably from the early 1900’s (please correct me if I’m wrong someone!), about 7.5cm tall, still with its crumpled lid. The reason it is my favourite is the story behind the finding of it.
This photo is of the best side of the jar, the side you can’t see has a crack in it, it is certainly not in collection-worthy condition, but I love it anyway.
When we went to Alice Springs in 2010 we spent hours driving out to a cattle station to spend a few days camping. Luckily we went in the off-season so the 3,000 sq kilometre property was completely empty. (The couple who managed the station needed to go to town for some shopping so we really were the only ones there for a few days.)
It was a great place and we spent every day following tracks in our 4WD just to see where they went. One afternoon we parked on a track on top of a hill to wander around and admire the view.
As I walked down the hill from the car to look for some more photos I noticed a remarkably smooth and brilliant white stone set into the tyre track of the road. I carefully prised it out and was amazed to find that it was not a piece of quartz as I was expecting, but this jar. We had driven over it, and I guess from the state of the track, and the jar, we were far from the first. I put it in a small bag and packed it carefully away in the camper to clean up when we got home.
At the time we were about 150kms from Alice Springs. The photo below was taken mere steps from the jar just before I found it. There were no other people as far as the eye can see and probably for many hundreds of kilometers after that either.
Who owned this cold cream jar? Where was she going? When was it that she (I am not sure how open men were to face cream back in the day so I am going with ‘she’ for now) noticed she had either lost it in her travels or run out and tossed the empty jar away? Had this poor jar lain out on that track in the harsh Northern Territory weather for around 100 years?
We were quite far enough away from cosmetic shops in 2010, can you imagine how much further away they felt in the early 1900’s? What a story this jar could tell, although I expect it would be an exciting beginning with a veeery long spell of waiting around… 😉
*Thanks to EllaDee for sharing her bottle cleaning recipe. I admit that I get a great deal of enjoyment when the volcanically bubbling reaction takes place in a bucket in my laundry sink 😀