“Oh that was years ago,” said Domino, aged 8. “I was 7 when that happened.” We were looking at photographs over breakfast on a cool October morning. I realized the passing of time in Domino’s mind was something quite different than in my mind.
I had laid the breakfast table the evening before, guests were staying for a few days and although we often laid up breakfast with the Heinrich palm frond china set, we did not normally put out the hand-embroidered napkins, both tea and coffee pots, choices of fresh orange or green juice and the sterling silver teaspoons engraved with the Prince of Wales’ coat of arms.
This was just over-the-top stuff to impress our guests, who were actually much more mesmerized by the fact that Conrad could eat not only two eggs and lashings of bacon but a stack of pancakes swimming in syrup as well as a mountain of toast and marmite. English boarding schools will do that to you. You ate gigantic breakfasts because the rest of the meals were truly crap. The other thing you did was lick your cutlery as you sat down. Well in my day you did. We would rush into the dining room, find an empty seat, grab the cutely laid out and lick it to mark your spot. Would you sit down somewhere if you were at risk of pre-licked cutlery? No, I didn’t think so. It’s a very effective way of saving your spot when you did get up to get your Frosties.
Mrs. Freidrich, who we bought our home on Harbour Island from, was a very precise Swiss lady. We had inherited the palm frond china set from her, and the matching napkins. It was all in perfect Swiss order, not a crease, chip or crack in sight.
At first I was a little unsure, being a color and pattern I would not naturally have chosen, but now twenty years later they are part of the fabric of our family life, although admittedly so many of the tea and coffee cups have been broken over the years we now have to drink from the double handled soup bowls.
I tried to explain to Domino how long ago we had first eaten breakfast off the palm fronded plates but I realized her mind might explode at the thought of twenty years.
Because that was years and years and years ago.