Wednesday, July 20, 2011
For the better part of the past month, I've been on the road, driving anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a day, making my way across this great land of ours. I've pretty much abandoned Small Circles and Teach Spot, my two normal blogs to chronicle about the journey for a small local online news service, The Newtown Patch. It's been a wonderful opportunity to expand my writing horizons and to share my work with a local population of interested readers.
But...Small Circles is still my home niche. It gives me a place to reflect on the people in my life and the creative universe that surrounds us all. For the past twenty-five days, I've expanded my circles, meeting people from a wealth of varying backgrounds...learning a little about them through conversation, and also in doing what writers do...listening in, because, well, we're nosy! I'm always looking for something new, and a few juicy characters to splash on the written page!
Just outside the Painted Desert, at a quick rest stop in Cameron, AZ, I stumbled upon a very small craft shop. I'd been looking for a turquoise necklace...nothing elaborate, and cost was a serious consideration, since we'd planned this long journey, knowing it was a huge expense in itself. I met a Navajo women, named Denise, whose small corner encompassed pottery, necklaces, earrings and all sorts of beautifully designed Native American crafts. I was struck as much by her work as I was by her beauty. She had gorgeous light tan skin, dark eyes and glossy dark brown hair. She was clearly dressed for the day, wearing one of her own creations, a beautiful three stringed turquoise necklace. I approached somewhat cautiously, because, as always, I do not want to engage until I'm sure I want to buy. This is the same in any store for me. I never want to get myself trapped.
Denise was a different story, though, I sensed it right from the start. She asked me what I was interested in, and I told her...something simple, yet elegant. She showed me a necklace on display that she'd made the day before. Two strands...of turquoise beads...varying in size a little along the neckline, with varying marks and impurities in the stone that made the piece stand out among the others. She told me the beads came from the Royston and/or Kingman mines. At first that meant nothing to me. But then, I realized, she wanted me to know more...to value the work. Both Royston and Kingman are mines from the state of Nevada. The turquoise is a deeper, darker aqua and the impurities have a brownish goldish tint. I loved the beads, her work...and loved her soft-spoken, gentle ways. I told her I'd like to bring my husband in, that it'd just take me a minute, as he's in a wheel chair. She told me to just take the beads...not to put him through all that. So I did. I took the beads out to the parking lot...and of course, my husband loved them.
When I returned, I bought the beads (for a third the cost of others I'd seen...which were lesser in quality for sure), and she gave me her card with all her information...Native Expressions, it said. She wanted to be sure that if anything went wrong with my necklace, I wouldn't regret my purchase at all. I too, am a person of my word, and so I loved this about her. I scanned the austere shop...only three other craftswomen set up with small tables in a room that could've held twenty or more. It was not nearly as luxurious as the shop next door, but Denise, to me, was another creative, working her craft one bead at a time along the road. I left there, tickled by the fact, that here she is on the outskirts of the Painted Desert, in a minimalist desert landscape as remote and quiet as I'd seen, bringing beauty to those of us who may never travel that path again...but enlivening the understandings that come and go between our two worlds.