Sunday, November 06, 2005

Antiquing

"One of these days I'm going in there to have a look." I have thought that so often when passing by this antique store, never knowing when - or even if - it was open. My mother, assuring me that it was indeed open, asked me if I'd like to go this afternoon. I decided right then that it was the perfect day for browsing through treasures.

I have always loved antiques and the shops where they are housed; beautiful, delicate china plates and tea cups set upon old, oak cabinets; sturdy, faded toys I'm beginning to recognize from my childhood; clusters of rings and brooches with secret stories from the past; haunting black and white photographs of smileless faces; enchanting, scripted postcards with heartwarming originality. When I enter such a place, the hands of time spin backwards, and somewhere some hidden pendulum is silently stopped.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this place bright and welcoming; beautiful, classical music playing softly in the background, light filtering through the windows, things displayed in parlor fashion in little nooks, and cider simmering in a silver pot atop an antique table.

My mother followed the clerk into a book-filled room as they searched through dusty covers for a familiar title. I found myself at the bottom of a narrow staircase, looking up into newspaper images of Ike and old war uniforms which were hung carefully against the railing. I slowly ascended the wooden stairs and found myself in a different era.

I felt as if I had turned the corner into my grandmother's attic. Beautiful, linen dresses with crocheted inlay were displayed against lace, their bodices sheer, delicate, lovely. Hats of all shapes and sizes were perched on stands like graceful, feathered birds in all the colors of the rainbow. Hat boxes from Houston and Chicago laid on closet shelves as if their owners would be needing the contents that very evening for some festive celebration.

The afternoon lighting and warm essence of autumn edged the lace curtains in gold and the room felt hushed as if in quiet remembering. I could have stayed up there the rest of the afternoon, trying on the hats and running my hands along the aged fabric and intricate lacework. It's times like these that make me wonder if I am of another generation and perhaps, born too late.

We get so busy with our lives that we don't always take the time for precious moments like these. And that's a shame.

I'm glad that on this lovely day, I stopped long enough to not just smell the roses, but to pick some for my memory's keeping. How comforting it will be to return to the warmth of this day in the midst of the winter that lies ahead. And how wonderful, knowing its reflection will remain when spring's caress gently comes again.

8 comments:

Mellissa said...

Good morning Lori,

This reminded me of a place in Hendersonville, N.C. where my parent's live. There is a little shop called the brass latch and they have the most beautiful antique linens, clothes, stoles and colars, handbags and jewelry - all from a bygone era. I, like you, used to sit and dream about who wore those delicate dresses, what was there story, who loved them - and noting there is so much white linen in the stores, that life was one long Summer garden party......and all the women looked like Elise McKenna from Somewhere in Time.....

Mellissa

clew said...

Hi Lori -

What a nice post! About 10 or 12 years ago I lived in the "uptown" of a suburb that had lots of antique shops in the district. I used to love to wander through the shops on the weekends and feel the past, and wonder about the people who originally owned the things. Along the way I bought a few things, one of which is an old green glass measuring cup. It didn't cost much - maybe it's not even authentic, but I use it every day still, and it helps me feel more like a country woman :).

I especially love old photographs. Even if I dont know the people in the pictures, I just love them.

martie said...

You're right, Lori, about all of us not taking time to stop, smell, see and experience the things of the past. It seems as life is moving much too fast and we would do well to slow down the pace a bit. Wonderful post. Makes me wish that we could get together over coffee after a visit to a place like this.

Pete Mitchell said...

True confession time:

I watch Antiques Roadshow
and...
and...
I like it.

I tend to get really judgemental too. I don't like the people who are obviously just interested in finding out the value and don't do a good job of hiding that. What I love are the people who come on with an object that is obviously very dear to their heart and are looking for someone to share their object's story with. There are some great stories to be heard on that show. That's where these objects' real value lies; not in the monetary value. I keep hoping that someone at PBS gets the bright idea to collect these stories into a book. That in itself would be a great record of personal histories.

Lori said...

mel - "Somewhere in Time" definitely came to mind while I was in that store. The dresses are always so tiny I wonder how they ever got into them.

clew - There is just something about relics from the past that make me feel closer to our ancestors...and makes them live on through their belongings and our thoughts of them.

martie - life is definitely moving too quickly right now. I'm so overwhelmed with all I need to do that this step back in time was definitely a rose in my day.
And coffee would be awesome!

peter - Yes, I've seen that show and love it. You can definitely spot the people who are genuinely interested in their item...and those who are only concerned with the monetary. When I buy something at an antique store, it has nothing to do with what I think it's worth, and everything to do with what it does to my heart.

srp said...

Reading your post, I felt like I was in another world, another time. It is so refreshing to feel that once in a while. We had quite a few antique shops in Mississippi but none so whimsical and dreamy as this.

McSwain said...

That really looks like my kind of place! No matter where you live, walking into that type of store can just transport you. Love it.

Macromoments said...

clusters of rings and brooches with secret stories from the past; haunting black and white photographs of smileless faces; enchanting, scripted postcards with heartwarming originality.

Lori, I could have written this! That's the same way I feel about antique stores. I read those old postcards or stare into the faces of those framed pictures of children in long linen dresses and wonder what ever became of them. I also wonder why any family would let those precious mementoes end up in an antique store!

I loved this post. It's hard to pick a favorite, because your writing always carries me away and makes me reminisce. Keep it coming!