Among the cleaning tasks I took on this morning was changing some of my winter textiles for the spring and summer. This includes kitchen towels, which nobody but me notices, and a few small pieces that just lighten things up. One of them appeared to be missing, though. Back in the 1990s I worked for the Peace Corps and my boss went to Zimbabwe to see some programs we were doing there. She brought me back what was probably intended as a placemat. She said it was the only thing she found that actually said “made in Zimbabwe” on it.
This is a problem travelers come across frequently. In Vienna a few years ago, chocolates aside, some of the few things I found that said made in Austria were at the MAK, an astonishing crafts museum. The gift shop had quite a few brightly painted animal castanets, which I considered buying for my nephews. Being a fairly merciful person by nature, I thought better of this.
But back to the Zimbabwean textile, I have used it regularly on my “coffee table,” which is in fact the smaller of two Navy trunks my father brought back from the Pacific in 1945. I like the way it looks there. Luckily, while rummaging through the closet where I hang tablecloths and shawls and some scarves, I came across it.
One of the things I particularly like about it is that the birds at its center look a lot like Guinea fowl, which my uncle kept on my grandparents farm when I was a child. I still love their speckled feathers.
So the silk velvet scarf with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh roses on it is going back to a drawer. Sometimes it gets worn, and sometimes it drapes a Navy trunk. Some things are more versatile than others.