Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hot Air and Big Baskets

Late last year, Carol Edison from the Utah Arts Council asked if I would get together a few local basket weavers and come to Salt Lake City for the Folklore Society's Annual Convention. She wanted to get the word out about the beautiful Navajo baskets being woven in Monument Valley, and thought the conference would be a good forum. A few years ago Peggy Black, Lorraine Black, Joann Johnson, Barry and I had done something similar at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art. The Museum of Art event had been great fun, so Carol hoped to recreate that same excitement for the folklorists.

Steve, Lorraine, Peggy & Joann

Peggy, Lorraine and Joann consented, but Barry was unavailable due to Spenser's accident, so the four of us traveled north for the big event. Before the lecture, I spent a little time walking around a display of photographs Carol had arranged in an exhibit room. Many of the pictures had been taken twelve to fifteen years ago, and featured members of the Black family.

Peering out from the frames were much younger versions of Lorraine and Peggy. I was struck by how the images highlighted the changes that had occurred over the last decade and a half. In the photographs, my traveling companions were not much more than teenagers. Since the pictures were taken, however, they have become wives, mothers, breadwinners and much more. Those images have stayed with me over the past few months, and keep reminding me how much things have changed since we opened the trading post.

Rather than fearing the changes I see happening all around me, I am actually fascinated by them. Although it may simply be justification for my ever increasing girth, to me it often seems the more round we are, the more rounded we become emotionally. I am reminded of the beautiful cluster jewelry I see many elderly Navajo ladies wearing. The silver sheen of these bracelets, pins and necklaces has softened over the years and the edges have been worn smooth. The azure stones have become deeper shades of blue and green due to the absorption of body oils, each gem having developed its own distinct personality. The jewelry, like many people I know, has been burnished and smoothed over time.

Looking around the trading post today reminds me there have also been significant changes in the store personnel as the years have sped past. Lately, I have noticed an abundance of reading glasses scattered around the store. In addition to the magnifying glasses, hot air and big bread baskets have become prevalent. The stories that circulate through the trading post seem to grow larger and more elaborate with each passing day.

In the beginning, most of Barry's stories were simple and direct. Now the tales resemble local construction, which usually begins with a small, centralized living area. The core is then enlarged by adding different sections on an ongoing basis; a bedroom here, a dining room there. After a while, you have a messy, but functional conglomeration of dubious composition. I sometimes catch people looking at Barry the way I see them looking at those houses; with a profound look of disbelief.

In addition to growing stories, personal growth has become a central trading post theme. Although we all adamantly maintain we are closely watching our diets, our bread baskets are growing faster than the business. When the progress, and the additional fabric necessary to conceal the development, is noted, there is a period of denial and grumpiness, followed by continued expansion.

Bluff Balloon Festival in Bluff, Utah

Last weekend, the balloons once again arrived in Bluff. During this annual celebration, we are treated to good company, exciting stories, bursts of hot air and volumes of colorful fabric attached to large baskets. The balloons have made me realize there really is a future in expanding tales, hot air and big baskets, so pass the M&M's, order me some larger trousers and keep in mind that honesty is not always the best policy.

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2005 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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