Road Trip to the North | And The Search for the Stolen Ring of La Conner
I have been fortunate enough to have avoided thefts and break-ins, but unfortunately that made me naïve to its very real possibility. Within one month's time both my car and my condo were broken into. In the case of my condo, old polaroid photos of my family and most of my jewelry was stolen. I had necklaces passed down to me from my grandmother, rings I had purchased on my travels, and the whole experience left me pretty unsettled.
Interestingly it was not the compromise of my safety that bothered me so much, I thank God I continue to feel and remain safe since the incident. It was the act of pilfering what was important to me without cause or right. It required a great effort to remember that these were just items, and though they are reminders of those people who I love and miss, I still have other ways of remembering them (I touch on this in an earlier post, Nostalgia Rethought).
There was one ring that my Mom bought for me on our way home from a weekend in Bellingham, which still causes a particular ache. The trip was an impromptu one, a detoured moment of curiosity that took us off of I-5 to go about 20 miles into a quaint little town called La Conner.
It is a very charming place to visit with a number of locally owned shops, including those that sell clothing, tea, yarn, antiques, home goods, art, natural beauty products, and more. There is also an amazing barbecue place called Whitey's Barbecue that serves delicious pork sandwiches with a choice of three sauces, I chose the smoked pear, which brought me such joy I cannot effectively express it.
I will note which shops I visited, but for the moment I will bring back our attention to the first purpose behind this trip. The one ring.
I remember how it hugged my index finger so comfortably, it had ridges to mimic the texture of a seashell and was very delicate despite its large size. There were periods of time when I would wear it every day, so often that my finger felt exposed without it, the slight indentation of the skin a kind reminder of its existence. So random, but I remember pointing at things and seeing in my peripheral this silver statement and feeling a small sense of happiness. It was an interesting piece and I was very grateful to my Mom for the gift.
So on this quest, I tried not to get my hopes up that I might find the exact ring again because our visit was so long ago, easily 6 or 7 years, and I remembered neither the shop's name nor its location. And if I am being truthful, I worried La Conner may not even be the home of the seashell ring. But if nothing else I knew I could enjoy a nice afternoon in this small town that I remembered fondly.
Caravan Gallery caught my attention by its pattern filled windows and the sound of a waterfall hidden by a picturesque wooden fence. As I walked past a small courtyard filled with foliage, I knew if there was ever an opportunity to find the ring, or one inspired from it, it would be here. I was greatly impressed by the many display cases filled with rings of all shapes, metals, stones, and designs. I found out from one of the store clerks that the owner finds all of these pieces overseas, typically in Africa, Papua New Guinea, and India. I was so inspired, seeing the creative craftsmanship, it was an encouragement to have fun with fashion, to take risks and try different styles. And the same applies to decor, they had these industrial table lamps with sewn leather patched shades and teak furniture that were an intriguing sight to the eye, beautiful examples of a global collection.
I mentioned to the clerk my unfortunate circumstances and the ring I was looking to replace. Sadly they did not have the same ring, but the options they carried were beautiful and many could be a wonderful inspired option.
Of the many beautifully detailed rings, this one above kept catching my eye. The simplicity of it combined with the hatched texture, similar to my seashell ring, made an impression on me. When I placed it on my finger I came to the satisfied conclusion that this would be a happy replacement. Adding to the experience was the friendliness of the staff, they shared their interpretation as we talked about all of the options. They saw the texture of a tiger while I saw the ripples of the ocean. It was great to see our different perspectives while looking upon this wearable art.
Now that the search for the ring has ended...other stops must be made along the way...
Pelindaba Lavender Farm Shop
Lavender is by far one of my favorite scents. It is a wonderful antidote to stress, I sometimes wonder if I have too much of it. Pelindaba is a really cool business that is run out of Friday Harbor, located on San Juan Island. A fully comprehensive company, they grow the organic certified lavender on their farm, distill its essential oils and hand craft numerous products including soaps, laundry detergent, creams, candles, honey, tea and of course just a good ole bushel of fresh lavender to take home. To visit a lavender farm is on my travel wish list so when I found out they welcome visitors year round I was euphoric. I proudly practiced self control and left the shop with only delicious honey (organic wildflower honey from Brazil infused with Pelindaba's lavender flower buds and essential oil) and a bag of lavender rooibos herbal tea. Success.
Handmade. La Conner
This shop was a haven for essential oil products and random outsourced knick knacks. They make, in house, facial washes, hand soaps, laundry detergent, and general cleaners, all in wonderful combinations of scents. I purchased a bottle of hand soap for my friend's Jess and Chris, lemongrass + cedar, which I thought was apt considering their business We Are Cedrus (the name inspired by cedar trees). The space is a renovated warehouse with tall ceilings and exposed pipework, the industrial feel offset by the large windows and soft white paint, creating a great display of their different art and goods. It was the kind of place that I could relax in and maybe give a hand at making soaps (A new addition to my bucket list? I will have to inquire).
Before I came across Caravan Gallery, my initial stroll along the street was filled with the ever growing sense that I would not find the ring. A slight disappointment began to settle in and despite preparing myself for that possibility I was bummed. It was as though I thought by finding the ring I would vindicate my frustrations for what happened. It would provide some peace of mind and I could start fresh by buying again that which was taken from me.
But life doesn't work so simply. Nor does that kind of thinking allow for actual peace of mind because owning the ring again does not change the memories with my Mom. They are still with me and are extremely cherished. By focusing so much on the object itself, I felt empty and forgot that the truly more valuable thing is her memory and our time together. Interestingly a little wooden gate helped pull me from my frustrated state into a place of gratitude.
So two things,
1. Visit La Conner. It is a refreshing place to explore and indulge in different activities at a lovely and leisurely pace.
2. If you ever experience the loss of an item that holds particularly significance, first don't disparage yourself from feeling the frustration, cause it sucks. Pure and simple. But I encourage you try to reconcile that the tangible is just one component of the memory. The memory so multi-faceted, impressionable, and powerful, does not have to be lost with the item too.