Fast forward about five years. I received an unexpected package in the mail. Guess what was inside?
The swans! Turns out J was downsizing, and instead of just sending them back to Sally Anne's, she found my address and shipped them off to their new home. I love that they remind me of those companionable, happy times with J--beautiful beads throughout what would have otherwise been a really difficult time between my marriage and moving to the US to be with my husband. She made that time bearable--being someone who was easy to be around, kind, and also going through a bit of transition. We learned to lean on each other, cross-stitching and chatting the evenings away to keep busy while we waited for that period of our lives to be over. It would have been almost impossible without her, and I was extremely blessed that our paths crossed at just the time we needed each other the most.
I know they're not real antiques. I later saw them in a catalogue somewhere. But that doesn't matter. They are probably my favorite little table accessories when we have company. I love watching people use them for the first time. Opening up their little wings and using the little silver spoon to scoop out the salt (pshaw on high blood pressure) is just, well--fun. And it makes you feel like you should lift up your pinky finger and say something terribly refined.