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Essay: Forks and Spoons

My daughter is moving into her first apartment and we are cruising yard sales in search of dishes, silver, pots and pans. Up and down the streets on our bikes, we check out all the bargains and recheck our list.

“A cheese grater!” Sara hollers, holding one up that is only a little rusty. “What every kitchen needs!” I agree and we add it to the stash. Probably we could have saved time and money by shopping at a discount store, but we are having too much fun.

In the alley behind our house, we find a bunch of tarnished salad forks and a few serving spoons.

“Might be the best we can do,” I say and Sara grabs four forks and two spoons. Later, I send her back for more forks but she balks at a third trip.

Upon closer inspection, we discover that the serving spoons are so well worn that the edges are like knives. “You can use them as weapons,” I suggest, “to defend against intruders.”

Years later, when Sara is married, I find the old salad forks and serving spoons in a drawer alongside her wedding silver. And I think how we can never predict what will turn out to be valuable, to be worth having, worth keeping.

“You could have had more forks,” I say again.

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.