It was 2011, in the month of June. I was back in the village of Walberswick, Suffolk, UK for a visit after more than a three decades long absence. Of course, I went down to the beach. It was a windy day and even though the sun was out, nothing glinted the warm bright orange color of carnelians up to me from the pebble beach.
I sauntered along thinking of my father, my siblings, my mother–all the things we did and did not do–during so many Walberswick days of my childhood. I picked up a few shells and put them in my pockets. Bending way down to the sand, I did find a grey stone with a gray heart rimmed with white. Second-best perfect, I thought! I kept this one in the palm of my hand, enjoying the smooth raised heart.
During my stay in Walberswick, Tassie, the daughter of our family’s village friends, whisked me off in her car to visit her mother Diana, this beautiful warm woman my whole family loved. Tassie’s father Clifford, Diana’s husband, also a most beloved family friend, was no longer alive. Tassie brought out artist Clifford’s’ paintings to show them to me. Oh what lovely landscapes he had done of Walberswick! While I studied them, I could still see him hard at work when I used to come upon him in the village. My chest heaved with the wistful memory.
Tassie didn’t stop there. While we sat on the back patio, she brought out her family’s collection of carnelians on a gray stone tray. If I didn’t gasp out loud, I am sure I laughed with delight, or at least smiled broadly.
Diana held the tray out to me. I lifted a beauty from it and lay it on top of my knee.
It was not wet, very dry in fact. But, still utterly amazing. Beautiful!
Yes, I wished I could take it home. No luck there. It’s part of this family’s magnificent collection. A family heirloom.