The Ivory Heart
What Did An Ivory Heart Mean To Me? I was in Alberta years ago and visited the magnificent Banff Springs Hotel in Lake Louise. I couldn’t afford to stay there – but it was a nice, relaxing place for a “then younger me” to have lunch, after a brisk three hour hike. Today, I’d probably spend the morning in the spa. But I digress. After lunch I wandered around and ended up in one of the shops. I can’t recall if it was a gift shop and art gallery or just a gift shop, but I do remember that it had exquisite merchandise. I have loved jewellery all my life and it was no surprise that I spent most of my time at the jewellery counter.
And what did I spy in a locked cabinet but an “amazing” ivory heart. To say that I wanted that heart would be an understatement. It was displayed on a background of rich, deep blue velvet and it was screaming my name. I asked to see it. The woman behind the counter very deliberately placed a large, plush mat on the glass counter-top and then turned to unlock the cabinet where my heart was resting. With a great sense of flair she placed the object of my desire on the mat. Then she smiled at me – almost daring me to touch it. Perhaps I looked a scruffy sight in my sweat shirt, jeans and hiking boots. The heart was about 2 inches long, about a quarter of an inch thick and as smooth as satin. It hung from an exquisite sterling silver bale and was attached to a chain made of hammered, silver links.
I was now officially in love. This ivory heart was, and still remains in my memory, the most beautiful piece of jewellery that I have ever seen. It was $575.00 and came with it’s own elegant case. At the time I was working in the corporate world – I made good money – I could afford to buy it. But it was just that little bit more than I thought I should spend. My holiday was already expensive and I still had to go to Vancouver before returning to Toronto. To put it into perspective for the time – my car lease was $178.00 a month. I reluctantly thanked the sales clerk and put the heart back on the mat.
Back then I did not wonder about the source of the ivory or think about a dead elephant. I just wanted to possess that piece of jewellery. Now it’s 2013 and I am aware. I know about the horrible fate of the elephant, whose life was brutally taken away, so I could stand before a jewellery counter thousands of miles away and yearn to buy an expensive trinket.
As the woman I am now – I remain forever grateful that I did not buy the ivory heart. Had I done so – then today I would wrap it tenderly in a piece of rich, red satin and bury it deep in the ground. I would conduct my own quiet ceremony befitting the memory of the elephant. I’d hope that at some magical and spiritual level, far across time and space, the elephant would know, that a small part of his tusk, had been returned to the ground on which he had once so gloriously roamed.