Being Beautiful: Spreading sparkles from china cabinets to petting zoos

I was just a little boy with his mama, and we had driven up Dykes Chapel Road to Miss Jessy Jean’s house, Perry County’s own petting zoo because she had at least one of every living thing created by God and known to man. I saw the peacocks in her yard and was smitten by the vivid colors of blue, green and yellow. It was a kaleidoscope of beauty and the very moment I fell in love with peacocks.

I began to notice them in almost everything: the NBC logo before and after commercials on our big console television and elementary school field trips to the local zoo. I often borrowed one of Daddy’s big yellow legal pads to trace my hands with colored pencils in the shapes of peacocks. Mama always hung my art on the door of the refrigerator, proud beyond what my talent commanded.

This appreciation for peacocks grew into adulthood and has become my collection of the spectacular birds, no, not real ones. A few years ago we finally got around to completing our china pattern which, of course, has glorious peacocks hand-painted across dinner plates, saucers, and cups. My favorite is the pedestal cake plate. These festive birds just make me happy for some reason, a barefoot little boy in my neighbor’s yard filled with exotic birds all over again.

Whatever the reason, my adoration is well known throughout my circle of friends. Charline gifted us with an exquisite sequined pillow that she said reminded her of us, and last year while meandering about in a gift shop in Taos, New Mexico, I stumbled upon another amazing pillow, this one with a peacock hand-painted onto it. When I walk by those two treasures in my sunroom, I smile and think of Miss Jessy Jean and how she loved her birds.

Over the years I have surrounded myself with the things that fill my heart with joy such as the pair of antique peacocks that belonged to our granny or the silver peacock lamps that light our evenings. Probably my most prized possession is a peacock blue carnival glass punch bowl and cups given to me by my mama. I was never allowed to do much as a kid except press my nose to the glass of her china cabinet, staring up at it from my tiptoes. Then one day after Mama got sick, she brought the punch bowl out, dusted it and the cups off, and handed them to me, their color resplendent in the light.

That was a special day for me as I fought back the tears. It was missing one of the cups, though, and she doubted I would ever find it. Years passed, and the day I said goodbye to my mama, my nephew Dakota walked over to me and handed me something wrapped in paper towels and old newspapers.

Yes, he had found the cup. Now, my collection is as it should be.

Contact David at [email protected]


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