Mugs are familiar keepsakes from tourist locations and travels everywhere. I have a few, but this one is my most precious and the oldest. As shown, it comes from Denali National Park, the centre point of my 6-week road trip in 1993 from Vancouver, through Yukon and around Alaska, and back through Alberta to home. I have so many memories from that trip, and it was a major milestone event in my life – a declaration of independence, a true adventure, a unique opportunity to see the wonders of the wilderness, times with new friends and old, and a whole lot of fun. Denali Park was not an objective, but it gave my trip structure as a significant destination, and rewarded me by offering up quintessential elements of a trip into the wild – moose, bears, eagles, and of course, mosquitoes.
The picture on the mug brings back a hint of memory with every use. Not an intense reverie, just a ripple at the recollections – the trip, the truck, the vast expanses, and the sense of adventure. This is what objects do better than photos. They provide a tangible link to the past and memories without being specific. They connect to the entirety of an experience or sensation beyond an image, giving that momentary sense of going back in time. The brief reminder of youth and independence and adventure is delightful, and makes the object precious.
This particular mug has additional significance for me now. A few years ago, a slight accident nearly sent this memento to the trash, but I learned about an old kitchen trick that saved it and gave it an additional story. Due to mishandling (i.e. I dropped it), the handle was broken. I was saddened at the loss of my mug, but then learned about the magical properties of…Carnation evaporated milk. Not sure how it works, but it does. I soaked the ends of the pieces in the milk, reassembled the handle, let it set for 24-hours, et voila:
The handle is nearly good as new, strong and safe, rescuing the mug from obscurity, and adding more history and another story to my object.