March 31, 2010

Handmade Wooden Shadow Box Diorama - Si je me souviens, je suis

Just this afternoon Joe put the finishing touches on this pretty little creation, and tonight I added it to my Etsy holiday shop.

For the search engines, I've listed it as a "shadow box," but a more accurate term might be "memory box."  In fact, Joe named it Si je me souviens, je suis
(If I remember, I am) in honor of our long ago French ancestors.  Joe has traced his family back to the Isle of Jersey; I've found mine in the little village of Lessay in Normandy.

There's not really anything reminiscent of Jersey or Normandy in the little box though, just some birch bark that the wind scattered around our dooryard, a few teeny winkle shells and pieces of feldspar from the beach out front ... but these small natural things are after all "such stuff as dreams are made on."  Shadows of things remembered.

I'm sure for Joe these things bring memories of his boyhood in Southern Maine, where he spent many happy summers at his family's camp on the shores of Sebago Lake.  In those days, a boy could wander all day through the woods, picking up pretty stones and scraps of moss covered bark. One of Joe's happiest boyhood events was the canoe trip he took with his brother Bruce, paddling from Sebago up the Songo River, through the lochs to Brandy Pond and Long Lake, to the town of Harrison.

Alas, those days are gone forever ~ Sebago Lake and the little town of Raymond are year-round bedroom communities for Portland.  The camps that have not been torn down have been converted to "proper" houses with all the "conveniences" of the most up-to-date suburban developments.  Motor boats roar up and down the once peaceful lake.  During the summer season, traffic moves at a crawl; on one hot August afternoon, we spent over two hours covering five miles.

But here in Down East Maine, 150 miles up the coast from Joe's boyhood haunts, there are still woods to explore and little natural treasures to bring home and cherish.  Yes, the water outside our window is not the fresh water of Sebabo Lake but rather the briny stuff of the wide Atlantic.  No canoes here -- but plenty of kayaks, lobster boats and two-masted sailing ships.  On a clear night we can see the winking red of the Bass Harbor Light, and when the sea smoke descends like a dense white curtain we hear the warning boom of the fog horns.

Memory is a sweet, often bittersweet, thing.  Personally I prefer the present, which will someday itself become a memory in another little shadow box.


  1. Oh Mollie... again your words take me to another place, a time from my childhood as well, memories sweet with fresh woods and streams and fields, camping with my family in New England. And your home today sounds so wonderful with its sailing ships and its white curtain of fog. I love your little memory box and its title, courtesy of Joe. Thanks for this lovely little post!

  2. Mollie...great creation!! I love it! Very unique & definitely something people will stop & ask about when they visit your home. And of course their next questions will be where they can get one! 8-)

  3. Thank you, Trish!