I love old stones. I love the history in old stones. I love the smell and the feel of old stones. When I go back to Italy I walk in the old, narrow streets and try to soak in all that oldness, an overdose of history!
I forgot when this love started but I do tend to believe that it must have something to do with my moving to a country where everything is new.
Little by little those stones that had appeared simply “old” when I lived there, acquired a new charm, became the staff of dreams! I dreamed of an old house built of old stones, dark and possibly damp! I felt that I needed a place where I could escape all this light, this clean and modern environment where I ended up living. I pined for oldness. It became one of those many things I simply couldn’t live without and I added it to my list of regrets and reasons to be unhappy.
Years later it came to me that I needed to look at what I had, not what I had left behind. This is not to say that I had to forget what I had left behind but simply accept that, for the moment, I had to be happy without old stones!
With my new found attitude I looked around me and realised that there is history, oldness and plenty of dampness in Australia. On a sunny autumn day we went for a drive in the country and arrived in Maldon, not exactly a medieval village, but a lovely gold rush town, founded in 1854. As old as it gets in these parts of the world.
Maldon looks a bit like a town in a Western movie, big open roads opposed to the narrow streets of my dreams but I love the fact that time seems to have stopped here. There are lots or tiny miners cottages and even some beautiful mansions but none of them have big extensions and big glass windows.
So now I have my beautiful piece of history. Our little miner’s cottage was built in 1867, in timber not in stone but there are stories in its walls and I believe the people who lived here over the years have left something of themselves. Everything in the cottage is second hand, either donated by generous friends or brought at local and city op shops. Objects and furnitures that bring more stories to our little home.
Our cottage is a mixture of us and all the people who lived here before us. Often, when friends come to stay, they bring old things they found in their back shed or even in their parent’s. Everything finds the right place and it immediately belongs. Or I like to think it does! My mum, in Italy, is always on the lookout for little treasures, like old keys (easy to post in the mail!), and I love the fact that I have my grandfather camera hanging on the wall, next to a globe bought at the Salvation Army down the road. This cottage is becoming full of our stories too. I had to compromise a bit and swap timber for stones but I am getting used to the smell of it, the feel of it, to its warmth. It won’t replace the old stones, but it doesn’t need to. Next time I’m in Europe I know where to go to get my regular refill!