Hands On At the Arts Festival

One of the highlights of summer in Columbus Ohio is the annual arts festival, held on the first weekend in June. I went today with my friend Eve and had a wonderful time. Hundreds of booths and tents line the two main bridges downtown and the streets that connect them. In this photo, I am leaning over the railing of the bridge, admiring the sparkling Scioto River along with my new “deer” friend. He’s a life-size statue of a deer, and it looks like he’s smiling as he looks over the River.

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My friend Eve has been a guide for me when hiking and a captain for me when biking. She has taken me shopping, and she has assisted when I host parties. she knows my tastes and what I need and do not need regarding mobility. When we would come to a booth that caught her eye, she would describe briefly what it contained, and if I showed no interest, we moved on. But if it was something I wanted to explore, she expertly placed my hands on the objects of art without fear of breaking anything. Most vendors encouraged me to touch anything I wanted anyway. Even people who are sighted want to touch the artwork to experience the textures.

We had a “get-away” cue. Sometimes, the vendors were so excited about showing me their artworks that it was hard to leave. After touching a few examples of the various pieces, Eve would say, “Here’s my arm,” and we would escape. But this one man delighted so much in showing me what he had done with palm leaves and maple leaves, that he’d say, “No, I’ve got her. I want to show her this other piece,” and off he’d take me to look at another stunning example of tactile art. You’d think I was a millionaire in disguise, and they somehow knew it. But we weren’t in a hurry, and it was a beautiful day, so we had fun with him.

In addition to being able to buy jewelry, blown glass, wood carvings, and even art objects made from collected pieces of junk, we could enjoy the same variety of food. Wanting to know all my options, I insisted on walking through the entire row of food vendors before I made my choice. Fortunately, Eve is the same way. We don’t just stop at the first thing we see and settle for that.

Mostly what I like to do at an arts festival is get an ice cream cone and sit on the grass and enjoy live music. Today, however, we got there early to beat the heat, so we were too early for the music, but I got a real “feel” for the world of arts.

If you think that art is just for those who can see, you’re missing out on an experience that will broaden your world and impress you with the imagination and creativity that these artists demonstrate. And if you happen to be a millionaire, it’s just the place for finding that perfect lamp, bird feeder, serving tray, or object to make you laugh.

Don’t miss out on a different way to spend a summer day.

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Memorial Day Renewed

It’s a funny thing how your views change about certain customs as you grow older or mature,. I mean, I used to think that it’s not Christmas unless you have a Christmas tree. And you had to have ham on Easter. And Memorial Day was the most boring of so called holidays.

This year, something—or someone—was calling me to go down to French Lick, Indiana to put flowers on my mother’s grave. I always thought that was an odd thing to do. Who cared if there were flowers on the headstones of people who were not there? It’s just like when my brother died at age 29, and people I didn’t know streamed into the funeral home to express their condolences. Before that, I had thought it was goolish. that night, I was touched.

So after a six-hour drive, with live purple dianthus in the trunk, along with a shovel, jugs of water, and gardening gloves, my generous friend Dan and I trudged through the weeds to a certain spot in this ancient cemetery to decorate the graves of my family. We placed one flower on either side of each of six headstones of my family, my grandmother, my mother, my dad, my aunt and her husband, and my beloved cousin. I had planned to stroll around and read the names of the others buried there, some of whom I knew as a child, but by then, the heat and the bugs were really getting to us. Then I asked Dan to do something else I used to think was weird. I asked him to take a picture of each stone with its little flank of Dianthus, so I could send them to my kids. They both are mature enough to appreciate my effort, because they both remember that beautiful old cemetery from funerals they had attended as little children and two years ago for the funeral of their grandma. It’s way out in the country on the top of a hill, where all you can hear is an occasional chirp of a bird. I think it’s the most peaceful place in the world.

We also brought a flag to place by my dad’s headstone. the American Legion volunteers had already planted one there, but we put ours there anyway. After all, he had served in the Army twice.

I had wanted to make this pilgrimage last August, on the first anniversary of my mother’s death, but I didn’t know of anyone I could ask to make such a sacrifice. It’s a 12-hour drive round trip and an overnight stay, so it’s not easy. One friend said in disbelief, ”You drove all that way just to plant flowers? You didn’t walk around the town or anything else? that’s a lot of work just to decorate your family’s graves.”” But now, I am blessed to have a new friend Dan who gave me the gift of his time for me to do what I felt needed to be done. It’s an honorable thing to do, dan, when you honor the deceased, even when it’s not your own family. Thank you for understanding a call that I can’t even understand myself.