Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Love in Yellow Pottery
Tired, happy and overflowing with the day - over seven hours of wandering through hundreds of antique booths with my brother - I spotted the vase as though the sun had just broken through clouds, and made a bee-line for it.
Not only was it the particular bright and happy yellow that says American pottery, in this case McCoy, but it was a lovely shape and had birds on the front. I started collecting these affordable and deeply satisfying pieces on a winter excursion to an antique store when the only sunshine to be had was in the form of a golden receptacle for flowers. This vase was the most amazing piece I'd seen so far.
Mark stood back as I carefully picked it up and examined it for flaws and found only the perfection of a simple household object whose sole purpose is to hold color and joy. Only then did I check for the price, confident after a successful day of negotiating lower prices for the treasures we'd acquired, that I'd be able to work the same magic here. Mark is a skilled antiquer, and I'm a quick study. His easy smiling way of approaching vendors with, "Is this your best price?" worked every single time. I had enjoyed watching him engage in the dance of the deal all day, admiring the pleasure he created in the interaction. And I'd been practicing with pleasure and success myself.
I cradled the vase as a weary middle-aged woman whose conversation with a friend we were interrupting approached and I smiled up at her hopefully. "Is this your best price?"
"Yes, it is. I've already marked it as low as I can. It's a fair price for a vase in that condition."
The price was higher than I felt right paying, although I told Mark as we walked away I might have allowed myself the luxury of the vase if she'd come down even $5.00. I looked back at what I'd already begun to consider my vase several times as we made the turn for the last aisle of the show. We stopped at the booth again on our way out while I pondered whether I could somehow justify spending $45.00 on a vase I didn't need at a time when I'm not earning any money.
I walked away again. We pushed through the doors into the late afternoon heat, arms aching and full of treasures we'd both found, my head full of the vase. Should I go back? Would I regret not buying it? Was I being silly to want it so much? We decided to wander one last aisle of booths outside on our way to the car, tired enough that our shopping had become cursory, but treasure hunters enough we weren't willing to leave just yet.
I spotted its glow on a table in a tent that looked more garage sale than antique display. My vase. Same shape. Same birds. Same heart-singing yellow.
My hands trembled a little as I examined it for chips or cracks. Nothing. Dirt and grime, but no flaws. And no price. I carried it to the two men sitting in a corner talking about man things, waited for a break in their conversation and made a joke about the vase probably not being free although it had no tag. The guy in charge took the vase from my hands, turned it over a couple of times in his hands and then said, "Would $20.00 be okay?"
My beaming, enthusiastic reaction startled him, and he might even have backed up a step. I wanted to hug him, but didn't. I just thanked him repeatedly as he wrapped my new treasure and handed it to me with a bemused and slightly befuddled smile.
As Mark and I left the tent, my step light, my heart soaring, I reveled in the miracles we'd just been blessed with. The day itself was a miracle - happy hours spent with a beloved sibling whose company has become one of my greatest pleasures. The brain-tickling joy of learning about the Victorian era through their silver and porcelain - sardine forks, cheese scoops, chocolate pots. The unrestrained fun of interacting with people who found joy in the sharing of their wares with treasure hunters.
And this final, unexpected miracle gift of a wish granted for no other reason than to show me it's possible to want and receive, that abundance exists in surprising places, that love glows sunny yellow. I have the vase now to help me remember in winter.