Small Things

A secret writer from a pragmatic blue-collar neighborhood, Marie White Small brings her skills as a florist, waitress, antiquarian bookseller, bookbinder, cook, and pie-baker to the page.


small collectibesI collect small things, intimate items: demure demitasse spoons, tiny forks for equally minuscule slivers of cake, demitasse cups and saucers, books no bigger than three inches by three inches, enameled decanter labels, and diminutive exquisitely enameled aperitif glasses. I do this, as I have explained to my daughters, because I have the tea party gene—an affinity to a lovely table setting, a little polished silver, and simple but beautifully presented entrees and desserts. And because my name is Small.

My small collections takes up very little space. They are throwbacks to when intricate craftsmanship was the norm. They exude care, and came from hands that were proud of accomplishment—and in some form, they come from love.

mr small booksI also collect books with small in the title—children’s books by the 1950s author Lois Lenski: Papa Small, Cowboy Small, Songs of Mr. Small, and Policeman Small. I am amused by the word, which for me is both an adjective and a name. Even my doctor is a Small, though she is from a California branch of the Small family, while my Small family came from eastern Massachusetts by way of Illinois. Dr. Small and I took an instant liking to one another; her late mother-in-law was named Marie.

But it all comes down to love, doesn’t it? My husband asks me from time to time, “Why did you marry me?” My answer is always the same, “Because you had a gas grill.” It’s as good a reason as any, because I cannot explain why or how I love him. I just do. The gas grill comment is my way of saying this is a metaphor for the inexplicable.

smallbooksLove is seldom easy; dysfunction in families and divorce rates well illuminate that fact. But the examination of love, how it thrives or fails, is something