Two mornings ago I went on a brief adventure.
I am working on a number of tableaux in the studio and I located an antique bed on craigslist that was perfect in price and aspect. It also was also down in Duxbury, which turned out to be further than I thought. However, it was a scenic drive on a very gray day. I saw some lovely things–a quilted sky; clouds looking like cotton batten. A partially frozen marsh the color and consistency of lemon pudding. River water, semi opaque and sluggish, like mercury.
When I finally arrived at my destination it turned out to be a little cabinet of wonders. The seller of the bed was a professional picker (that may or may not be the right term in this context): when people go arrears on their storage units, he makes a bid or offer for the entire contents. Fascinating.
His shop was as tidy as could be, loaded with bins and shelving. I asked him what the best thing he’d ever found was and that was the magic question. Soon I was getting a tour of remarkable treasures, including a nautical trunk with intricately braided and waxed cotton handles. A museum piece (but it was going to his wife for Christmas), it was constructed of camphor wood, and when he opened it a smell like no other wafted out. Two hundred year old wood, yet magnificently fragrant.
He also showed me a steamer trunk from the 1930’s, filled with clothes from the same era. And when I commented on some striking glassware (pink goblets with stems made of green vaseline glass) he asked if I wanted them. And then my new friend retrieved a bag and some tissue paper and said ‘go ahead, wrap them up and take them.’ He threw in some multicolored cordial glasses which I shall pass on to my daughter.
Before I left, he summoned me to his desk. He handed me a tiny glass jar full of coffee beans, with a handwritten note inside from the late 1800’s indicating that this was the first coffee from their new home, they being the family of the person who wrote the note.
It was such a pleasant and surprising diversion—like stepping into the back room of a museum, one where they send you home with antique beds and pink and green glassware.