June 26, 2010 by Jen
“My shop burned down this week. But…”
This from an elderly man who had just shown me a black-and-white photograph in a frame with cracked glass, displaying an old-fashioned weaver’s loom that had belonged to his mother, and on which he had learned to weave as a boy.
I was at a local farmer’s market and had stopped to run a finger over the assortment of brightly colored woven rugs which, he told me, were made from rejected drapery/other material (“seconds”).
Unless I can afford to buy, I tend not to linger for long at any one booth. Mainly because I get the uncomfortable feeling that I’m raising the seller’s expectations of a sale. But this time I was curious.
He showed me the little knobs on some of the rugs from the sewn toes of woolen socks. He pulled out a few rugs to show how a flaw in the colors of the original fabric had turned into a beautiful pattern in his rugs. He told me about the woodworking he did on the side, and showed me the woven-wood seat of the chair he’d been sitting on.
He told me that he’d been weaving for 30 years, since his retirement. That he’d first learned from his mother. That there were so many unhappy people, and this was what he wanted to do. He took a craftsman’s pride in the array of colors and patterns he had designed.
And then he said, “My shop burned down this week. But…”
But he was still there. Still expressing a love for what he did. A joy in what he had created and what he could share with passersby, like me, who took a moment to stop and listen.
His rugs were lovely, and I’m hoping to get one eventually, but even more than that, listening to his story reminded me how many times fear of what people will think or assume causes me to miss out on something precious or fail to honor something beautiful.