The Kitten Basket

Posted by Brette in Collecting

Basket_BasicI spent a lot of my time as a child at my maternal grandparents’ house.  My grandparents were there for me when my parents were at work, and then when I started school, I came home to their house every day off the bus. I have an incredible stable of comforting happy memories from those times. Most importantly, each day was a reminder that I was loved and cherished. Even though my grandparents were stoic (I tell people it was very American Gothic in some ways) and not prone to effusive words, the time and attention they devoted to me showed me how important I was to them in a way words never could.

My grandfather owned a greenhouse business next door to their home and I have many childhood memories from the greenhouse: the deep, overwhelming smell of the mountainous dirt pile in a garage; the green, alive smell of geranium leaves, the slivers I got when I brushed the benches the plants were on; and the heavy-lung warmth of the greenhouse in winter. My favorite memory involves both my grandparents. Like most agriculture businesses, the greenhouse had a resident cat: Mama Kitty. Every spring Mama Kitty would have kittens and she always chose the warmest, safest, coziest place she could find: next to or underneath the giant boiler furnaces that heated the greenhouses. My grandfather would let us know when kittens were born, and when their eyes were open, my grandmother and I would take her deep basket, cushioned with a dish towel, over to the greenhouse. My grandfather would then climb down into the boiler space and somehow fish those kittens out for me. He would put them in the basket. I would carry the basket home, trying to keep the kittens from climbing out as we followed the path home (the older they got, the more impossible that became).

When we got home, we would go into the three season sun porch, put a blanket on the floor and I would play with the tiny kittens, admiring their needle-sharp nails, tiny eyes, short tails, and multi-spectrum fur.  My grandmother often sat on the floor with me as we cuddled them, one by one. Then we would pack the kittens up and take them back to their boiler home until my next visit.

This same basket is what we used when we packed picnics in the park, scurrying away from the nasty geese who tried to chase us away. My grandmother pushed me on the swings and even ran to make the manual merry-go-round spin me endlessly.

Today this precious basket is in my family room and is one of my most special possessions.

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