Tuesday, February 1, 2011

“Tin in Pictures” by Kirsten Peterson

Dad bought two hundred acres of old farmland. It had been grown over since before farmers stopped using horses. Mum and I would go for walks in the bush and mostly trip over barb wire grown into roots, but sometimes we would trip on other things that weren’t sticks under moss or overturned stones. We cooked steaks on a hand grill from the farm foundations in tinfoil so the meat wouldn’t taste rusty. Dad wrecked the weed whacker when he hit the spikes on a hay rake. It was an odd hay rake because it didn’t look like a rake at all. It was supposed to be pulled by horses to get the chaff. The rake looked like a square grid that had got stretched by the pulling into diamond shapes instead. At the corner of each pulled out square there was a spike. This was where we hung our wet mittens and socks, and coats on the bottom rung if the sleeves didn’t touch the ground.

There were only a few things to find that weren’t rusty. I liked the glass tops from jam jars where the seals had rusted away and the main jar had been crushed. The glass tops were flat and didn’t break so easily, but I still only found three. The glass tops had bumps outlining the jam jar company’s crest. I found last the one that had part of the picture – there was the edge of a crown and horsetail that might have been white. It was red now and made me think of the people buried in bogs and their blonde hair turned red.

Mum and I used the jam jar tops like coasters. No one else did – the bumps made cups tilt and they knocked over easy. Mum said that was the interest – tea was so relaxing it was almost boring and it was less boring if it might spill. At cards we took turns nudging the table so that the cups slowly tilted the other way. The first day I found the horsetail top I took my old coaster and put it in the cabinet. At cards I took my cup off the picture coaster and said I was going to go put more milk in because the tea was too hot. When I came back Mum had Gran’s ashtray in front of her and she was picking the picture off into the ashtray. “There’s a lot of dirt under this,” she said.

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