We are foragers, that is clear. We go to places where forgotten, rejected things wait to be found again. Sometimes one of those things is so different, so terrifically unique, layered with telltale signs of age (buckles, clasps, hinges, worn off paint and rusted nails) from all these decades that you just know one or two or twelve people have loved it before you.
It was sitting on a table of “Spring Things” right by the door. I looked at it – touched it – then walked on. I spent a good twenty minutes looking at sweaters and dresses, my two favorite charity shop searches, all the while glancing over the rack: flirting, pondering, wondering if someone was going to come along and whisk it away before I did.
There’s thrill in letting something one-of-a-kind and beautiful just sit there. The longer you wait the better and then, when you’re finally ready, you go get it. It’s a little bit, just a little bit, like falling in love.
I’m smitten especially with these artifacts that ask more questions than I’m prepared for. Some things you find and you say “Ah-ha! Bennington pottery, and this marking dates it at 1967. Perfect.” But other things, they are not so clear.
What do I know about this blue box?
I know it is old, something precious came in it sometime between 1920 and 1950, looking at the hinges, rope and box joint construction.
I know someone painted it blue, all of it, all the metal and rope sometime between the fifties and seventies. I know someone painted this vase and flower motif. I wonder if it was the same person. Who is HHC? These initials are signed at the bottom of the design.
I know it was used, lovingly, but the locks need to be hammered back in to place. That will be my contribution.
It asks and asks even more: like who put this shelf paper in here and why didn’t the painter paint the inside and is there some kind of marking beneath that blue paint?
About foraging: it is certainly the mystery and how clues sometimes leads to discovery. Other times they just stay mysteries.
If there was just one thing I could do with all my days, endlessly, it would be to wander around flea markets, charity shops, thrift stores, closets, garages, white elephant sales oh — you know, just all those places. I would wake up early and drive to somewhere I haven’t been in a little while, walk and walk and shop until lunch, stop at a little local bakery for lunch, then shop and shop and walk again. All day the back of the truck would be filling up with golden stuff.
For now I settle for borrowed bits of time to and from appointments, little fifteen minute windows where I can steal away to places that smell of acrid cinnamon candles and ladies’ perfume, musty old paper and flaking record covers just hoping every time to fall in love like this.
What do you love to find? What mysteries have you uncovered and which still keep you guessing?