31 August 2011

Treasure Hunting

I grew up in a family that treasure-hunted, to put it mildly.  My father's toy train collection was (and still is) legend among my friends, and our home was filled with antiques and collectibles from all eras, each one either sentimental, valuable, beautiful, interesting or all of the above.  Many Sundays after church, our family would take the long way home, winding our way through Seattle neighborhood garage sales, my Dad always asking the proprietor at the folding table, "Do you have any toy trains?"

I remember one garage sale in particular when my mom had found some beautiful, under-priced handmade quilts.  (This was in the eighties when it seemed like handmade would never return.)

She could have easily bought the quilts, resold them for more money, or kept them for her own.  Instead, she asked the women selling them, "Don't you want to keep these in your family?"

The woman responded that she had assumed that no one would want them, but when turning to her daughter-in-law, realized that she had been wrong.  My mom didn't take home a quilt that day. 

At Christmas and birthdays, my sister and I, (and now our husbands), always receive a carefully selected vintage item (or a few) from my folks.  Maybe it's a book, or a picture in a frame, or some other "find."  But it is always unique and special. 

I've been having fun rekindling my own enjoyment of the hunt lately, visiting sales with my folks, and perusing vintage stores.  I've found a few fun items, and enjoyed the junking process that is finding, feeling, musing, putting back, picking up again, and buying.
(Unless you're my Dad, who knows a find when he sees it and becomes like someone performing covert ops as he grabs it and furtively moves towards the cash counter.)

Looking through a sale or an antique mall can be daunting, even if, like me, you spent much of your childhood walking through them, small hands firmly clasped behind your back.  I suggest just letting your eyes dance, letting them find the gleam of treasure.

Last weekend, I went to an antique market on Saturday and a Farmers market on Sunday, and both days I found treasures.   I love markets because there is no one saying "buy this!" There is just stuff, and more stuff, and you choose what you like or want, and then take it home.  Or, you just look.

I never really know if I've gotten a treasure--food or not--until I get it home.  It's when I place it where I thought it would look great, or just hold it and begin to notice more details and beauty, that the feeling of finding something special sinks in.

Maybe my fascination lies how treasure allows my imagination to engage.  With food, I imagine what I will fix, how delicious it will be, how pretty it will look.  With items, I wonder at the history of the piece, where it has been, who made it, whether I'll put flowers in it.  Treasure hunting in whatever form relaxes me, makes room for something that does not "have to get done".

Does it do the same for you?

Happy Autumn!
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