For my thirtieth birthday, my parents gave me a mysterious small box.  I love small boxes.  My engagement ring came in one.  Bequet Caramels from Bozeman come in a small box, as do truffles from Posh Chocolat in Missoula.  Real vanilla extract comes in a small box.  Small boxes are good things.

Inside the box was this necklace:

It is comprised of beautiful, irregular amber beads:

And it belonged to my great-grandmother.  My parents discovered the beads, loose in an old envelope, along with a needle and thread that great-grandmother had apparently tried to restring them with, in the bottom of that old trunk I wrote about earlier.  Knowing my love for all things old and well loved, Mom and Dad had the beads restrung for me, and I’ve been wearing them proudly ever since, whether I’m in court or pouring beautiful beeswax candles.

The beads are imperfect, unmatched and bumpy in spots.  Clearly, great grandmother loved them, as they are the sole material thing of beauty in the entire trunk of her memories.  Did they belong to her mother? Did her husband give them to her after the birth of their first son?  Did she buy them for herself, as a widow?  I’ll never know.  I wear them and know that there are mysteries in life that remain unsolved, that make the last tangerine stroke of sunset, the last platinum fire of starfall before dawn, that much more illuminating.

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