What’s in a name?

Recently, rosemary, the herb, has played a starring role in my blog, and in my home life.  Almost every day, during the past fortnight, I have made an infusion of rosemary leaves and flowers, and the scent has permeated my workspace aka the kitchen 🙂  The fragrance is swoon-worthy but ,of course, swooning in the kitchen would be dangerous, so I resist the temptation and sit sensibly at my bench top laptop instead.  Now, as you may or may not remember, rosemary is a symbol for remembrance. But, even more interestingly, the aroma of rosemary is believed to  enhance memory and brain function. It’s true; the Huffington Post says so  (  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/rosemary-brain-memory-18-cineole_n_1304250.html ) Perhaps, then, it was my daily inhalation of rosemary essences that made my brain suddenly take a little leap and twirl and prance off down memory lane, to the time where my life long love of rosemary began.  Strangely though, my love for rosemary began not with the herb but with the name, Rosemary.

Many decades ago, near the beginning of my life, I was given guardianship of a large baby doll which had belonged to my aunt, and, later, to my mother.  The doll came to me from my aunt’s home, complete with beautiful clothes, bed-clothes and a white pram large enough for a real baby. I can not remember if she came with a name (obviously insufficient rosemary chemicals in my blood stream) but I do remember my very solemn decision to christen this precious family treasure, Rosemary.  Why Rosemary? I have no idea; again my brain is insufficiently enhanced to recall!  But Rosemary she remained, all her life with me and then through my sister’s childhood too.

Eventually, after decades of a steamy life in the tropics, it was felt that Rosemary was in danger of ‘going troppo’, so she was returned to my aunt in New Zealand. Sadly, the pram had disintegrated under the stress of tropical living conditions but my aunt, and a doll doctor, were able to restore Rosemary to her original beauty.

Content that Rosemary was alive and well and in good hands, I didn’t think much more about her until, a few years back, when I visited my aunt in her new abode in a retirement home. There, on my aunt’s bed, was Rosemary. I exclaimed “Oh, you have  Rosemary here. How lovely!”  My aunt, who in no way at all needs artificial enhancement of her mental faculties, looked at me in great surprise and said,  ” Rosemary? That’s Sadie. She’s always been Sadie.” It was my turn to be surprised. Through all those years I had loved her, my Rosemary had been hiding a secret Sadie. 🙂

My aunt went on, “I don’t know what will become of Sadie. Will you take her home with you and look after her?” “One day, I will,” I replied.  But, for now, she can remain in quiet retirement. She has earned her rest. My aunt will be 94 this year. I imagine Sadie/Rosemary is only a little younger.

© silkannthreades

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58 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Steve Schwartzman

    Most people assume that rosemary is a combination of rose and Mary, and although those words seem to have influenced the change from the older form rosmarine to the modern rosemary, the word originated as Latin rōs marīnus, meaning sea dew.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      When I was a child, I certainly thought Rosemary was a combination of two of my favourite names, Rose and Mary. But I actually think the real meaning , sea dew, is far lovelier. However, if I had known that as a child, I probably would have thought, how silly, and chosen another name for my doll. 😀

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Patience, patience…. | silkannthreades

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I am lucky I still have some of them, although they are mostly in boxes in my attic. Do you know what happened to your favourite dolls? Some of mine just wore out.

      Reply
  3. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    oh, this is a lovely post for so many reasons! you have your daily rituals with rosemary, and i have rituals with fresh hibiscus and mint. i’ve grown quite fond of using part of my still-warm mint tea and pouring it on a facecloth.. ah, it’s so nice to sit on the deck and watch the birds and immerse my face/neck in the essence of mint! the hibiscus is for whatever time of day i pick the flowers!

    i loved the story of your lovely doll, and how she’s migrated back and forth while switching identities, and the love that flows between you and your aunt. is there a younger member of your family that treasures the doll, and if so, i wonder what name she’ll adopt!!! z

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. And you have just reminded me that I could make an infusion of mint too. Sadly, no hibiscus 😦 I am glad you loved the story of our family doll. I don’t know where she will go after me but I will try to remember to put a wee note in her pocket so the next person knows her history. I love this little quote from The Doll’s House by Rumer Godden “It is an anxious, sometimes a dangerous thing to be a doll. Dolls cannot choose; they can only be chosen;they cannot ‘do’; they can only be done by;…..If you have any dolls, you should remember that.”

      Reply
  4. Tracy Rhynas

    How lovely that Rosemary / Sadie was restored to her former glory – she is looking wonderful for her age! I remember calling my earliest doll “Picadilly Circus” – I have absolutely no idea why……I wonder what a psychologist would make of it?? One of my later dolls was also called Rosemary, and my husband’s sister is Rosemary (Roise) – it’s a good sound name.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I think a psychologist might say that you were a very creative child! And the creativity has stayed with you. I am glad to hear that you had a doll called Rosemary too.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          But I find it completely delightful that a child should consider Piccadilly Circus a suitable name for a doll. Makes me smile.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      My aunt is a treasure. When I was younger she made clothes for me and also for my dolls. She inspired me to make lots of doll clothes too but mine were never as beautiful as the ones my aunt made. Mind you, I was only little and not a trained dressmaker!

      Reply
  5. teamgloria

    we love this post.

    and just so you know that we read all the comments too…..

    we Adore Rumer Godden (Greengage Summer gave us Chills as a young thing emerging into youth)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How can I express my joy that you are a fellow fan of Rumer Godden? I have Greengage Summer by my side. I decided it was time for a re read.

      Reply
  6. Virginia Duran

    Very nice story. I always find interesting how some objects bring us back to people or to moments. Have you thought already who deserves being the next owner/protector after you?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, it is interesting. And you have asked me an important question! At the moment, I have no idea who might be the next protector, after me.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Indeed she is 🙂 My aunt made the dress and bonnet and I am fairly sure the crochet blanket is her handiwork too. My aunt is very skilled at crochet and knitting and used to be a dressmaker.

      Reply
  7. lautal

    Your Rosemary/Sadie remind me my sister’s doll from the life ago – something like 50-55 years ago. The only difference she has passed away and we have her in our memory only. Anyway, your story is nice.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Our dolls are somehow very special to us. I still remember some of my other dolls even though I no longer have them. I am glad you remember your sister’s doll. Were you allowed to play with the doll? I didn’t like boys playing with my dolls because I thought they were too rough with them 🙂

      Reply
  8. Annie's Place

    What a lovely doll and story. I have a cousin named Rosemary but she has always been called Rosie 🙂

    Reply
  9. The House of Bethan

    What an amazing story, Gallivanta! Rosemary/Sadie looks like such a lovely, friendly doll.
    Your tale reminds me of a doll that my mum had when she was little – Jemima. Unlike Rosemary, Jemima had a really frightening face, with pale cheeks, thick black curly hair, shark-dead eyes and a mouth (with teeth) that opened and shut as you moved her legs. Ever since my mum left home Jemima lived at my grandparents and whenever me, my brother and cousins visited and she was always the source of made up horror stories and frightening adventure into the loft.
    Hmm – now I’m writing this, I have just remembered that it was us children who named Jemima and actually my mum called her Joni … Strange that these dolls can have so many personas. xx

    Reply
  10. leapingtracks

    What a beautiful story. And so funny to hear it, plus the comment from Kiwiskan, because I too have custody of an old family doll. Unlike you two, however, I am not sure of any name she was ever given because family members she was originally owned by are no longer with us. But there is obviously a community of treasured and carefully looked-after companions around the world!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I do believe there is! Perhaps a naming ceremony is in order for your old family doll 🙂 ? Is she carefully tucked away or enjoying a view of the happenings in your house?

      Reply
      1. leapingtracks

        I have been pondering the right reply to your very pertinent question. I have decided to name the doll Florence after my Grandmother, who was, and still is, a huge influence in my life. I’m not sure whether the doll was part of her life but I know it came via her branch of the family and it seems fitting somehow. Florence is carefully tucked away at the moment because she is rather fragile these days, but I will get her out at the next opportunity and let her know her new name!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Florence is a lovely name. She will be delighted. In writing this post,my interest in some childhood books was rekindled. Reading through these books, AFTER writing my post, I realise how my view of dolls has been deeply influenced by the writer Rumer Godden. If you are interested I would highly recommend The Doll’s House. Warning! It will make you want to talk to Florence every day 🙂

        2. leapingtracks

          I will definitely follow up on that recommendation – sounds intriguing! And let you know what I think in due course. I might also let you know what Florence thinks too 🙂

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          Please do. Nothing to do with dolls but, ever since, I learned from you about John Muir, his name keeps peering at me from all directions. Have you walked any of his trail near Edinburgh? I see that a new coast to coast walk, the John Muir Coast to Coast Trail will be opened in 2014 and April 21st will be John Muir Day. All this makes me think I should be joining the others returning to Scotland for the Year of Homecoming 2014.

        4. leapingtracks

          Ah, yes we have walked a short part of it, to the East of Edinburgh, and visited the John Muir museum in a lovely small coastal town called North Berwick which is about a 30 min drive east from here. There are some beautiful beaches and coastal walks to take – something we were surprised to discover when we moved here from London! How wonderful to think you might be able to visit next year.

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