A crafty good time

Maryland Independent - - Southern Maryland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

Ican’t be­lieve I’m say­ing this, but I felt a lit­tle sad pulling on my boots Mon­day morn­ing.

Au­tumn blew in last week­end, send­ing sum­mer stomp­ing away in its flip-flops un­til next year. Beaches are emp­ty­ing; shorts have been folded and put away. Pump­kins take the place of shell­stuffed buck­ets on front porches. Ev­ery­thing changes again.

I adore fall (I’ve men­tioned that, right?), so I wasn’t pre­pared for the wist­ful­ness I felt on the first cool morn­ing of the sea­son. The care­free na­ture of sum­mer — san­dals for me, T-shirts for Spencer, one­sies for the baby — made get­ting ready for the day so much eas­ier.

Now? The days are get­ting shorter and shorter. Al­ready the shift has im­pacted Oliver’s sleep sched­ule, and the com­ing time change will mean chaos for our al­ready dis­or­derly house­hold. That’s some­thing the baby books don’t tell you, friends: day­light sav­ing time will ruin your life.

But with the rough comes the sparkly. It’s al­most Oc­to­ber, and I have three words for you: craft fair sea­son.

In an in­stance of “work” not feel­ing like work at all, I heeded your re­quests and col­lected in­for­ma­tion on ev­ery craft fair I could find in South­ern Mary­land into one master list. The cal­en­dar is up now on Ch­e­sa­peake360.com and in­cluded in the fall print edi­tion of the mag­a­zine.

I have a per­sonal goal of fin­ish­ing the bulk of my hol­i­day shop­ping by Thanks­giv­ing, so these mar­kets will be cru­cial to stay­ing on track. My mom, sis­ter, grand­mother and I make an event of them, usu­ally hit­ting sev­eral each day across mul­ti­ple week­ends. For me, they’re as much about tra­di­tion and com­mu­nity as they are about com­merce. Held at schools, fire de­part­ments, churches and halls, these mar­kets are great op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­port lo­cal folks and find gifts you’re un­likely to spot on Ama­zon. You al­ways run into peo­ple you know. They’re just fun.

So fun, in fact, that I once branched into sell­ing my­self. Briefly. Have I ever shared the tale of the dis­ap­pear­ing eye­brow, circa 2008? Per­haps? Well, I’ve been known to mer­ci­lessly re­hash good sto­ries. Grab a latte.

In my younger years, I loved to cro­chet. Af­ter gift­ing my cre­ations to just about ev­ery­one I knew (and some I didn’t), my fresh-from-col­lege self thought it would be fun to start a lit­tle “busi­ness” with my sis­ter. We rented a ta­ble at one of our fa­vorite craft fairs in Wal­dorf with plans to of­fer my cro­cheted pieces and goods made by Katie.

In­ven­tory prepa­ra­tion took months. My “fall col­lec­tion” of scarves in­cluded col­ors for lo­cal high schools, plus “Harry Pot­ter”-themed items. Katie painted and dec­o­rated beau­ti­ful bird­houses for the hol­i­days.

Some of the lit­tle pieces on the houses re­quired hot glue . . . and our mom, ever re­source­ful, brought along some last-minute sup­plies she thought we might need — glue in­cluded.

We got to the school gym­na­sium early to set up, bright-eyed and ea­ger as we ar­ranged our ta­ble. As as­pir­ing en­trepreneurs, Katie and I were ex­cited to fi­nally take part in some­thing we’d only viewed from the con­sumer side — like pulling back the cur­tain at a Broad­way show. The vibe was elec­tric as or­ga­niz­ers pre­pared to open the doors . . . and that’s when it hap­pened. A house fell apart. Well, not en­tirely. But one of the small ob­jects Katie had ar­ranged on a bird­house popped off, tak­ing a strand of del­i­cate Christ­mas lights with it. I pan­icked, think­ing our prod­ucts would look cheap, and dug through Mom’s emer­gency bag for glue. In hind­sight? I could have just put it aside to be fixed later. But, you know. I wasn’t think­ing ra­tio­nally.

The only glue we had was in a well-used, seale­dover tube. I squeezed hard, try­ing to get it to un­clog, and . . . it ex­ploded. On me. Run­ning to a re­stroom, I re­moved the glue from my face — along with half of my right eye­brow.

In hind­sight, this was pretty se­ri­ous. When I told the story later to my dad, ges­tur­ing to the stillred skin above my eye, he did not laugh. That’s when I re­al­ized this mishap could have had se­ri­ous con­se­quences — but what can I say? Dodg­ing a cri­sis made me giddy with re­lief.

We didn’t sell much at the craft fair; that year’s re­ces­sion hit at­ten­dance hard. But we did send a few bird­houses home with new own­ers, and Katie and I learned a les­son in hu­mil­ity. My eye­brow did grow back . . . even­tu­ally.

This fall? I’m happy to stay on the con­sumer side, en­joy­ing the fruits of oth­ers’ time and tal­ent. You know never know what you’ll find, and that’s what I love about it. Like a good yard sale, it’s all about the thrill of the hunt.

And the bake sales, of course. You know I’m not leav­ing with­out pump­kin bread.

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