The second of two placards…
The second of two placards…
One of those truly unusual finds from the Vanves flea market in Paris. These are wax seals depicting heraldic crests from some of the oldest families in France. I have my friend Nancy to thank for spotting these. We were approaching the final few hundred feet of the market and I heard a sharp intake of breath. I turned and followed Nancy’s gaze to a gentleman who had about 20 or so of these small 12″X14″ boards arrayed on the pavement at his feet. It seemed unthinkable that they were for sale and not in a museum. Who knows, as I write this it occurs to me that maybe they were stolen.
I’m not sure whose idea it was to send us to hiking camp in the mountainous Haute Savoie region of France, but one August, there we were. Two little American kids among forty or so French-speaking 8 to 12 year olds. For an entire month. The camp was sponsored by SNCF, the French National Railway. We went two years in a row. The first summer was fantastic: Hiking in the high peaks, eating amazing cheese and foraging for hazelnuts and wild blueberries on our endless treks. It was there that I discovered the joys of eating a baguette stuffed with giant hunks of Swiss chocolate. On our longer hikes, and at higher altitudes, we would sometimes stay overnight at a farm. We would all pile into the stalls in the sheep or the goat barn. With the animals. Yep. The second year was decidedly less fun. I had sprained my ankle quite badly right before camp was to start. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how that played out in a place where one was expected to be ambulatory and more. I mostly sat around reading, drawing and — inexplicably — making yarn pom poms that the bratty French girls then promptly pulled apart. The other day I found this picture of my brother (kneeling with his arms around the goat) with some of the other campers and it all came back to me in a rush.
I was tagging along on this particular trip to Home Depot. Something about my spouse wanting peat moss for the potato trench. All words I never thought I would string together in a single sentence. The gardening and landscaping section is at the far end of the store so there is little incentive to wander if one wants to get in and out in a clean sweep. And we both get a little cranky on these outings. Something about the big box retailer thing. All was not lost though. I found momentary happiness in and among the stacks of wheelbarrows, paving stones and watering cans!
This is a personal little tidbit: When I was 7 and my brother was 9, my mother decided to move us to Paris. She had visited a few months prior and left her notebook in a cafe. She decided it was fate. Or was it serendipity? Anyway, instead of relocating via airplane (boring!), she opted for the slow boat. The S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam. The very same ship pictured here. How she afforded it still baffles me. It was the last transatlantic voyage for this vessel and its Dutch crew. Any passage thereafter was spent in the Caribbean. We departed from a pier on New York’s west side. All the requisite streamers and champagne were there to see us off. It had to be one of the MOST exciting days…ever. Until my mother realized that she had left her luggage sitting on our porch back in Philadelphia. Oops. She was a trooper though, and made the best of an awkward situation. She also quickly made friends, all of whom were happy to lend her a dress here, a pantsuit there (It was the 70s). But mostly she just wore the same thing. We were supposed to dock in Le Havre, but there was a dockworkers strike so we couldn’t make port. Through some stroke of genius, or luck, or both, the trip ended up being extended for a few extra days before finally anchoring in Rotterdam. Photo via Old Chum via Electrospark.
Sal, the proprietor of the Tin Can Trading Post in Callicoon, has a quirky and eclectic eye. One that I enjoy immensely! His tastes run the gamut from a spectacular woven civil war coffin, to a 1970s Soviet plastic Anna doll and everything in between. The shop isn’t curated in any obvious way, so the experience of discovery is all your own. Not many places still see the merit in NOT polishing and cleaning every item. I ran into him earlier today and agreed to stop by. I actually avoid going into the store because I have little to no willpower. Anyway, as soon as I crossed the threshold, I saw these spools of twine hiding in a bin near the floor. I ignored them for a moment, not wanting to get distracted. But I caved. It’s the red tape that got me. For earlier bits and pieces from the Tin Can Trading Post, see here, here (the plaster letters) and here. Oh, and I totally forgot…here.