poetry and prose about place

in the shed

with 4 comments

At my Mom’s old home, there was a shed, housing the stored and discarded miscellany of her family.  It had been built by my uncles in the distant past and the floor tipped and slanted after the settling of years.  The shed had a special smell, not musty or unpleasant, but definitely tinged with the smell of mothballs and camphor. 

There were two rows of shelves, built against the walls and around the small windows.  These were grubby and cracked, but the quality of light shining through had a ghostly, ephemeral quality.  I spent hours in the shed, armed with the assurances of my aunt … I could keep anything I found, as long as I promised to love and care for it. 

I can never remember studying anything so intently as the items stored in the shed.  I particularly remember an old trunk and its contents.  Most of these were old clothes, but I found a fox fur with beady glass eyes, a fur muff in a linen bag, a small carved metal container my Mom said had once contained perfume, a small locket with a medical insignia, and a little embroidered tape measure and matching needle case.  I also found two small framed pictures of flower arrangements.  All of these things are still in my possession.  The fur muff has been taken on our annual drive to see the Christmas lights for 31 years.

I also found a bolt of white lacy fabric I eventually used to make my wedding dress.  This fabric had an important history since my grandmother had worked as a live-in nurse for the Carnegie family in Pennsylvania and received the lace as a gift.

I think the shed and its contents inspired in me a lifelong interest in antiques and in collection.  One of my favourite places to spend time is in an antique shop, hunting for treasure.  And my house is filled with old ornaments and books, rickety chairs and collectable dishware.



from an old trunk


eventually misplaced

I will wonder where these items hide

shake boxes, ransack alphabets, indulge

in games of word association, regretful

as though a family detail

is forgotten


a teller of oral history

a stiff neck at the archives

a keeper of heirlooms

a liar


for now

I will protect these, tucked

in tissue paper and labelled boxes



© Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

January 21, 2012 at 8:12 am

4 Responses

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  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. I can smell the fragrance of my grandmother’s attic as I read, and see the little wooden boxes where family history was stored, and remember the mystery and joy of discovering gifts from the past. Lovely!


    Carol Steel

    January 23, 2012 at 1:19 am

    • Hi Carol. How little survives from generation to generation! I am glad you have these memories. Jane


      jane tims

      January 23, 2012 at 6:56 am

  2. Jane, I simply love how you take these yesterday moments and lift them to life, first with your prose, then with the sparest of words, and then you give us a sketch so we can compare it with the image already in our mind. May we never lose our childlike wonder in the smallest of treasures.


    Deborah Carr

    January 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

    • Hi Deborah. Thanks for your comment. It is interesting to see how the same idea can be represented by different methods. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. Jane


      jane tims

      January 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

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