308 Ann de Forest


Chips and shards, painted china from Clark Park Bowl.

In December 1998, we moved to a house a block from Clark Park and adopted a one-year-old black lab Border collie mix from Mom’s Animal Shelter. Christy was my shadow, and she helped me get to know our neighborhood through the diverse community and dog owners who congregated every morning in Clark Park Bowl. I don’t remember when I first looked down on the ground and noticed a chip of painted china and plucked it from the ground, but that first find led to many others. Clark Park Bowl was once a mill pond and then an informal dump in the 19th century. Broken china is also often used as fill, mixed with dirt. Dog walking mornings turned into shard hunting mornings and are thirteen years of charity life with us I accumulated a collection of painted china chips – some tiny, some large, some hand painted, some machine painted, some bearing manufacturers marks or other writing. Most are edges of plates or cups. Every now and then I’ve come across a cup handle or a curved piece and a bowl painted on two sides. The enclosed are a few selections from the collection. An archaeologist friend who used to walk his dog at Clark Park dismissed my treasures as just finds, i.e. not useful for supplying any historical data or evidence. I love the randomness of the mix. They could surface, especially after rainstorms, the past pushing up to be discovered just under the park’s surface. And now they are a memory of the time when Christy was in my life.