I have been reading Little house and the big Woods to my girls. In it there was a lovely description of an everyday item- the butter churner. I was struck by its elegance. It was part of everyday life and it was beautiful:
In winter the cream wasn’t yellow as it was in summer . . . Ma liked everything on her table pretty so in the wintertime she colored the butter . . .
When the cream was ready, Ma Scalded the long wooden churn-dash, put it in the churn, and dropped the wooden churn cover over it. The churn-cover had a little round hole in the middle, and Ma moved the dash up and down . . . she churned for a long time . . . When Ma took off the churn cover, there was the butter in a golden lump. . . Then Ma took out the lump with the wooden paddle, into a wooden bowl and she washed it . . . After that she salted it.
Now came the best part of the churning Ma molded the butter. On the loose bottom of the wooden butter-mold was carved the picture of a strawberry with two strawberry leaves.
With the paddle Ma packed butter tightly into the mold until it was full. Then she turned it upside-down over a plate, and pushed on the handle of the loose bottom. The little, firm pat of golden butter came out, with the strawberry and its leaves molded on top.
Laura and Mary watched breathless . . .
The butter churner was sturdy, useful, practical, elegant, beautiful. So often we overlook our everyday items. We think “it will do” and leave it at that. But we should strive to fill our homes with beauty. Our everyday china should be sturdy and beautiful, our everyday clothes should fulfill our needs and be attractive, our kitchens functional and peaceful. Ma didn’t have to color the butter or mold it into a strawberry, but look at the joy it brought to her home.