Friday, October 4, 2013

How to make an exceptional day out of an ordinary one



     The minute my husband and I climbed the steep wooden steps and walked under the portal, I knew that we would be there for quite some time. The conditions were right —a Monday, no less.
     One way to see the countryside on a casual trip is to take rest stops every now and then without that urge to rush from point A to point B. We have made a four- hour trip into an all-day one.
     People laugh at us for finding more unusual places than any two people could possibility imagine on a dreary plain road. We’ve done that all our married lives.
     Sometimes it is at a local store for a quick bottle of water and a check of the local newspaper for their calendar of events.
     Once that got us front row viewing at a Tom Mix festival and parade in the sleepy town where he had grown up. There was an assortment of classic cowboy character re-enactors of the likes of Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger strolling around that opened our eyes.
     Although I don’t remember Tom Mix (I am not that old), I do know that he helped define the Western for all cowboy actors who followed. Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291 films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western megastar. John Wayne was right on his tail.
      It was a déjà vue experience for the two of us growing up in the era where playing cowboys and gals was in vogue. If I remember correctly, we ended up too tired to drive home that night. We stayed overnight in the neighboring community to boot. That town led us on another mini side trip meandering along a trout stream with the best flyfishing in the region.
     On the other hand, like recently, it could be a unique kind of place tucked away not on the map.
     My husband pulled over by an old weathered barn selling antiques. It was along the edge of the main highway, a typical windy two-lane road running through northern Pennsylvania. Those roads are the ones that can make you a carsick passenger faster than a speeding bullet!
     Surrounding the front of the structure were sleds, baby buggies and an assortment of upright wooden chairs artistically arranged. That caught my camera’s eye.      
     We had driven by this place many times throughout the years on the way to visit family, and for some reason or other, we had never stopped. Always there was an excuse.
     The owner greeted us from the rear, and left us on our own to walk the aisles and look for that perfect treasure. I appreciated that in his style. I have experienced the chatty owner desperate to fill up an afternoon with conversation taking my mind off my mark.
     Groups of pieces were organized and displayed neatly. The prices appeared reasonable, as well. It wouldn’t be too difficult to go through things, rather than the rummaging in other places, which in itself can be loads of fun.
     Don’t get me wrong. I do get a kick from going into a massive barn where things are all over the place. Often those treasures that I pour through are great finds in the long run. The hunt takes longer, and I find that I have to be in the right mood, too.
     My usual strategy in an antique place is to not have anything in particular in mind. I let myself roam and see what is for sale. Coming with a plan to add a piece or two to one of my collections never gets me anywhere. I wonder how it works for you?
     As I moved closer up the first aisle, the owner and I began what I call “the starter” discussion. Where we were from? What would be our route home?  He remarked about only coming our way in the warmer weather before the snow flies.
     The whole while that we were talking, I noticed that he was inspecting a bag of jewelry. He told me that he had been to an estate sale and showed me a beautiful filigree and bone bracelet.
     I asked to try it on, and hoping that I wasn’t showing too much interest, I handed it back after quickly checking the price on the tag.  I walked away mentally calculating how much cash I had with me, and I knew that I would buy it in the end if he would accept my offer.
     In the meantime, my husband was browsing miniatures in another aisle. We find that we do best separating the minute that we walk in a store as each of us has a different purpose. I notice that other couples will stick tightly together and discuss each and every item. That works for them. Many people go alone on searches.
     The barn was chilly and it took away from a lengthy stay, but it was time to get on the road again. We said our farewell, knowing that we would plan to make this a definite stop in the future. There were items hiding from plain sight and waiting for us.
     Sure. I did buy the bracelet and a Depression-era green goblet for my already bulging shelf.
     You never know what that’s all about until you stop and take a look.