This week I want to share a special discovery with you, dear readers, most especially if you live in or near Traverse City, Michigan. (Those in other cities or towns may also come upon exquisite surprises at their local farm markets that might also be faintly ‘cloaked,’ except to discerning folks...)
A few weeks ago Joe and I visited the gorgeous, towered 1880s Building 50 at The Commons, part of the huge complex of lovely structures that comprise the visually stunning former Traverse City State Hospital complex, closed in 1989, then gradually, sensitively transformed into lovely condos and locally owned small businesses. We always enjoy wandering its arched brick basement halls, where the indoor farmers’ market is set up on Wednesdays and Saturdays in winter. It’s fun, too, to peruse its many little shops that feature books, jewelry, clothes, and other various handmade items.
We happened upon a booth where a handsome, very tall man in his 40s was selling farm-fresh eggs. Joe bought 6 beautiful brown beauties to have for breakfast the next three days. Then, while he waited for his change, he noticed another understated display at the same table. A quiet young girl stood very still behind the table, watching people move by without noticing what she was selling. He poked me and pointed. I looked down at her display- and gasped. Joe whispered, under his breath, “What marvelous art!”
I picked up one of the stationery cards and stared at its fresh, detailed depictions of Shire horses and children. This young girl and her twin sister had apparently created the pictures, and their admiring parents had decided to feature them on greeting cards. But no one seemed to notice. She stood so still against the wall, not promoting, just waiting...hoping...
Have a look. There are more, but just look at these...
I loved them, and promptly bought 3 cards. She was so glad that I’d noticed her work. (Once seen, they arrest one’s gaze...)
I couldn’t get such talent out of my mind, so we went back the following weekend. No girl this time. Instead, two young boys were standing there just as quietly, just as hopefully...
I saw a new depiction- of a girl in rainboots holding her collapsing umbrellas as she walks away from us through rain and wind. It is perfect! Not cluttered, just exactly right in every way. Her red coat or dress, teased by the wind, is a delightful splash of color, warmed by the street lamp’s gentle light.
Delighted, I bought it and 4 more cards. The two boys were as happy as their sister had been, not only by the money I proffered- ($3 per card,)- but also by my fulsome praise.
I was awarded two shy smiles.
The stationary is bare of words.
The sketches are not signed.
The art Shines.
This time Joe had a very brief exchange with their dad. His 11 children help work the farm, where their horses are clearly loved and appreciated.
If you like The Commons farmer’s market, perhaps you could keep an eye out for this booth. I can’t remember exactly where it is, as the halls wind and turn.
The eggs, by the way, were delicious!
Right after all this happened I was amazed to receive a hand-written letter from my younger daughter, Elisabeth. She has decided to go back to the old-fashioned way of communicating her thoughts to people she’s close to. (Often my readers, or visitors to Sunnybank’s secret garden, write snail-mail thank-you notes, which I love to receive.)
“I find it hard, and tiring, to write emails. But letters written by hand help slow me down, help focus me, and when one can’t delete a sentence without it showing, one becomes so much more thoughtful in how one goes about the writing business...”
Exactly so! I loved the idea, and knew at once how I would respond- with one of these extra-special cards!
Funny how things work out, eh?
I HOPE their affectionate spontaneity, instinctive composition, exquisite detail and uncluttered settings remain free of adult ‘nudging.’ (Sometimes, well-meaning art instructors can stifle, or conventionally corral young, malleable artists.)
Next week I’ll return to the Commons for more of their work. In fact, I plan to purchase a roll of slim red ribbon to bind together groups of 4 cards (with their envelopes) to offer as gifts to cherished friends.
Discovering little jewels certainly enriches my life!