Where Have the Baskets Gone?

The other day the wife and I were perusing an antique store. Suddenly I realized that baskets were everywhere, stacked on top of shelves, sitting on floors or crates, peeping out from cupboards. Big baskets, little baskets. Baskets with gingham cloth. Baskets with handles. Baskets without handles. Baskets made of dark wood. Baskets made of light wood. Woven lath baskets, thick lath baskets, round baskets, oval baskets, tall baskets…

As my feet followed my wife my mind began a brief expedition to basket land. In this land I found myself pleasantly refreshed by the uniqueness of each basket I came across. In each I encountered a personality which stirred me, something I could accept or reject. To one, “I find your shape pleasant,” to another, “your green color makes my stomach turn,” and to a third, “you look dependable.”

For all I know, some or all of the baskets may have come off assembly lines from a bygone era. But each one had a feel of worth, a uniqueness, a sense of personality. There was something altogether more human about these objects than about many of the mass-produced objects I daily find myself surrounded by. It’s this very quality which I think draws many people to antique shops in the first place.

As my mental timer (a mechanical one; I’ve refused to “upgrade” to digital) informed me this deep reflection needed to end soon so I would remain attentive to wifey, one last thought occurred to me. People used to shop with baskets. They are sturdy, rigid, and protect their contents. All desirable qualities, especially when shopping for groceries. But then, this isn’t so much an advantage nowadays because so many groceries are pre-packaged. I emerged from my reverie with a mental sigh, a longing for a time when time was slower, a time before plastic bags, a time when everyday baskets had meaning.

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