Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Picking in The Old Days Part 4

There is a grace . . . an art . . . to picking.

There in the barn or attic, 
I used to make a mental list of the items I desired,
 and defer to
my grandmother's wisdom and dickering expertise.
I'd wait patiently for her to add my items to her pile, as she had taught me.
I had learned there was more bargaining power in multiple items, which form a bigger net sale.
That part I understood.
(I couldn't imagine how a price could be determined for a piece of family history!) 

Who was to estimate the value of the stories and the experience, the heartaches and joys attached to a 125 year old handwoven basket that made it's own journey from the east to the west?
Did it survive typhoid and starvation and freezing temperatures and unending loneliness?
Did it's owner?

I was in awe of the process in which these women engaged,
 as easily as if they'd been considering the price of fresh eggs or a gallon of milk.

Mamom never showed a sign of excitement . . . 
never a hint of disappointment if the asking price was too high.
She gently laid the item back where it had been found and continued the easy cadence of conversation of the price of beef and how many acres were under cultivation.

It seemed they were attempting to avoid the reality
 of one woman's need to surrender her belongings 
to another.

There was a give and take.  
On occasion, my grandmother would overpay for some sweet piece, while another time she would choose to let an item stay behind.  
Looking back, I believe
  she had an understanding 
of which item was too precious
 to remove from it's owner's hands.
Some things were to be praised and admired, and left for another day.

In turn, the homeowner's gratitude in being able to hold onto the cherished belonging would spark a generosity of spirit in pricing the balance of the inventory.

Like playing a violin, 
the heart and the hand were ever so important.

To be continued in tomorrow's post.

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