A few years ago when we relocated to this area, I explored the most wonderful antique shop on our quaint Main Street. I stepped into the shop not knowing what to expect and became steeped in days gone by. The small room in the front held cherished children’s books and a few well-loved toys. Around the bend, I found a larger room shelved with assorted books. I became lost in time as I searched for a gift for my brother’s birthday. When I couldn’t choose one, I headed through another door where I encountered the register and one of the proprietors. She was one half of a couple in their eighties and absolutely delightful.
We chatted for a while as she told me about her and her husband’s history and how they came to own the shop. When I told her I was a retired English teacher, she ran upstairs to bring down a book she had just acquired to show me. She was uncertain of its origin and wasn’t ready to part with it, but oh, how I wanted it as my own. From there, I traveled at a museum pace through two more large rooms filled with everything from china that had seen countless Sunday dinners to relics that included knickknacks which had once graced fine ladies’ mantels, needlepoint designs young girls had labored to create, and weathered tools farmers had once been proud to own.
Just as I thought I’d reached the end of the adventure, I saw an arrow pointing toward the backdoor. I couldn’t resist following it and was well-rewarded for my curiosity. I exited the shop, followed a stone path through the yard, and turned to enter a basement encompassing the entire area of the building above it. Within were countless antique working clocks, exquisite handmade furniture, and a rich variety of artwork. There, I met the other half of the couple, a talented gentleman who was a clocksmith.
Eventually, I chose a gift for my brother and a circa 1914 small print of a tree with some lines from the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer for myself. Very simply, I love trees, but Kilmer, who died at the age of 31 during a WWI battle in France, is also special to me. While traveling in Italy, my husband and I met his granddaughter on a train. During our trip from Venice to Padua, she shared a bit about him and his most famous poem.
As I paid for my selections, I remembered an old book I had. When I described it, the owner was interested in seeing it. I had no intention of selling it; we were two women who saw the value of words handwritten by someone over a century ago as priceless. I told her I would stop in sometime to show it to her. I left the easy comfort of the shop and returned to the rapid pace of modern society. While I often drove past and remembered our conversation, I never did return. Now, that opportunity is lost.
Early this year I noticed changes as I drove on Main Street. At first I thought perhaps the shop was closed for the winter, but when a new business took over the space the truth was inevitable. The time periods represented in that captivating place had collided with the the one in which I lived. Although I often thought about returning, I didn’t make time to go.
We always believe we have time, that we’ll get to it. We are barraged with the idea of live for today, because tomorrow isn’t promised. Yet, most of us refuse to believe it. We get so caught up in our daily activities, we don’t have time to call an old friend, read a good book, or visit a local antique shop. We don’t make time for the things our soul yearns to do.
My treasured book from 1856 is reminiscent of a time when handwriting was an art, words were revered, and relationships were paramount. And, that is why it is so meaningful to me. We can never return to a nineteenth century way of life, and in truth, most of us would not want to leave behind our twenty-first century conveniences. But, if we try, we can still nurture the truly valuable things in our lives. Isn’t it time?