It truly has been a summer of great picking. Just when I think I can’t top the picks, I get another call, show up, and leave with a trailer full.
Last weekend, we enjoyed a family outing. We were celebrating the completion of a huge road construction project that was part of my husband’s job. We were at one of our favorite restaurants, “Toppers.” Somehow, we managed to nab the secret recipe of our favorite dish .
I even squeezed in a few stops at boutiques and vintage shops in the lovely downtown Montevideo. They had me at “weird stuff” and I knew I’d love what their vintage store had to offer. The place had a great vibe, chuck full of Junk By Jenny’ish pieces. They had crude, but very funny shirts. I was inspired by their hand-crafted jewelry and have ring forms on order from Amazon. [Yeah for learning new things.] As the sign mentioned, one fat cat was definitely the welcome host of the store and darted outside upon my entering. Thankfully a passerby was quick to catch him [whew].
Midway during our road trip, I received a message from a customer who I have done custom work for. She was part of the cleaning crew at a family farm. She had sent me a photo with vintage school desks, a few old chairs, and a barn door. SAY NO MORE, it was a no brainer that we needed to stop. In fact, I probably had half a trailer load purchased right over the phone. The farm just happened to be on our way home from Montevideo. Despite having a rig full of groceries and sleepy kids, hubby agreed we could go. The secret is that hubby really didn’t have a choice.
This beautiful barn welcomed us. Gosh, I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to barns.
The family was so welcoming and were eager to let us snoop around. They had already started my pile and were excited to show us the “treasures.” My husband and Claire were the social ones, while Ethan and I took to the woods. Any good junker knows, the woods and the junk piles are where the real treasures live. We weren’t about to let barbed wire, burning weed, or a muggy evening stop us.
We found this charming inhabitant of the old grove.
After we rooted around in an old grainery the family coined the “treasure shed,” dug through the pump house house, we couldn’t leave without peeking in the barn. It’s longer than normal length was home to many old stalls and stone walls. Gosh, if those walls could talk. This was my favorite photo of the day (taken on accident). You’ll notice we were not prepared for our impromptu evening picking adventure with our shorts, gold shoes, and new Nikes. I never let fashion get in the way from shifting through a barn full of treasures.
So, what did I fill the trailer with? Nothing, during our first visit. A mid-summer storm was brewing, our suburban was full of groceries, and it was obvious I needed to return with an empty trailer. The kids and I went back a few days later, only to greeted to a larger pile and the most lovely little lady, Louise. A few of Louise’s family members were still hard at work cleaning buildings. Louise, the elderly woman who once lived on the farm visited with the kids and I as we packed our trailer. She was puzzled beyond belief why in the world I would want with this large pile of old junk. She was impressed how my little junkers hauled piece after piece into the trailer. As I explained my story as an upcycler, she shared her stories…piece by piece. As her son and I packed the 10 vintage school desks into the trailer, her face lit up. She told of her childhood days sitting in those school desks at her little country school in Edison Township. Jokingly, I inquired if I’d find her name carved in any of them. She quickly responded, “Oh, I wasn’t that kind of student.” She was pleased to hear I was a teacher. I drove away with a trailer full of school desks, cool wire baskets, chairs, shelves, and more artifacts from that beautiful Swift County farm with a regret. I didn’t get a photo of Louise. I told the kids, instead, “Let’s go find the Edison School House.”
About 5 miles down the “Milan Road”….there it stood, nestled on the prairie. Edison Town Hall. It wasn’t anything fancy or elaborate. It was the original home to my new fleet of school desks and where little Louise spent her days in country school, which was all that mattered that day.
As I reflect on my many, many (gosh, too many to list) picking adventures, they aren’t really about the stuff I load in my trailer. That day and most of the picking days are about the people. Gosh, I love the people and the stories.
More to the Story…
Just when I thought this heart warming story couldn’t get any better, a text from my mother-in-law suggesting I check my email proved otherwise. Cindy, my mother-in-law knows Louise from the story well in a professional setting. The family reached out to Cindy in hopes she could connect with Louise about the story that I wrote about my visit to her former farm. The fun part about the story is that the family had no idea of my connection to Cindy. In a sequence of emails back and forth between the family and Cindy, they concluded just how small the world is. Enjoy some excerpts from the email exchange. Some information has been omitted to maintain privacy.
Good morning Cindy. I am not sure about who to ask this question of. I am Louise’s daughter-in-law Lori. We live in Arizona and were in Minnesota last week helping clean out the farm where Louise Lived. A gal got some items from the farm and wrote an awesome article about it that I would like to get to Louise. It was difficult process for her moving and I think she would love to read this article and will make her feel really good. Is there anyway someone could print this article for her and take to her apartment? Let me know your thoughts. Thank you, Lori
_________Hi … it is a small world …. That “gal” that got some items from the farm is my daughter in law I talked to Louise yesterday and told her about the Junk by Jenny article. I will certainly share it with her. Thanks and Have a Great Day !!!! – Cindy
Ooh my goodness , IT REALLY is a small world! We all just loved your daughter in law and the whole family. Such well mannered kids! This has been a difficult transition for Louise and was hard for her to see things go. She seemed so much happier after spending the time with Jenny and seeing how happy it made her to get the items. I know Jenny’s write up about the farm and visit is really going to make her DAY! I really appreciate if you are able to get it to her. Thank you so much Cindy! – Lori