Shana walked into the lobby of the event center and stopped. She looked around and beheld a barbershop quartet singing carols, children dressed as elves serving cups of cider from trays, a huge tree that scraped the vaulted timbered ceiling, lights and more lights, and a toy train that was chugging through a mountainous Christmas village and sending up tiny wisps of smoke.
And there indeed was a goat, costumed as a reindeer. And there was a nativity scene, dozens upon dozens of them, all hand carved from wood, stone or cheese. It was some kind of contest.
Shana hadn’t moved an inch. Was it all too much for her? No, she mushed ahead into the main hall. She saw decorated tables and booths and wandered the aisles. She examined and handled and sampled the merchandise.
There were: jams, jerkies, jellies, mobiles, soups, balms, tinctures, perfumes, necklaces, scarves, shawls, doilies, cards, journals, candles, toys, water colors, illustrations, collages, frames, Bigfoot poop (peanut brittle, with or without corn), pillows, rugs, bird houses, bird feeders, dog and cat clothing, glass jellyfish, candy, bird feeders, puppets, head bands, hats, magic wands, feathered this and feathered this, and leg warmers, yes leg warmers!
And all the gifts from the sea! Hundreds of driftwood items, including a gun rack and toilet plunger. Agates galore and painted sand dollars. Lacquered skulls of seals and gulls. Limpets and tiny sculptures made from evil ocean-going plastic.
Shana lingered at one booth much longer than others. At first glance, it appeared a vendor, a man wearing corduroy head to toe, was selling mere sticks and small logs that seemed to be whittled, and badly whittled at that, on both ends. They weren’t even lacquered. Absurd! But upon closer inspection, Shana saw photos and illustrations of beavers and read an artist statement from beavers, and realized that the vendor was marketing the wood as sculptures created by beavers! They had gnawed and chewed branches and trees in the wild, a strange man had collected them, and here they were presented as art! Shana picked one up, it was roughly the size of a corn-on-the-cob, and she brought it to her mouth and pretended she was a beaver eating it for supper. She even made a goofy bucktoothed face.
The man looked at Shana and smiled. “I get that all the time,” he said.
Shana smiled back and shelled out five bucks for the piece. She stuffed it in the back pocket of her jeans, right next to her phone.
More wandering and wandering and handling and sampling. The roadkill elk jerky was incredible. The keyhole limpet necklace otherworldly.
In due course, a trance engulfed Shana and she seemed lost in a vortex of crafting. Only when a Santa atop a sled pulled by four huskies that jingled and jangled through the center, did she snap out of it. She hadn’t said a word to a single crafter outside of a thank you to the beaverwood vendor. She didn’t know what to say to them.
It was time to go, but Shana couldn’t find a way out. Every turn took her deeper into crafting and unique human passions and skills that she never knew existed. She saw a narrow hallway that seemed like an exit and picked up her pace to get on with what she came to Gold Beach to do.
Lighted beads blocked her path. What the hell? Shana pushed through the beads and stopped. She stood on the threshold of entering a forest, a forest of macrame. There was macrame items displayed everywhere. So many hung from hooks it was like a meat locker.