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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Craft (as in handcraft) (02/08/07)

TITLE: The Walk in the Woods
By Karen Petty


Tall trees shaded the row of booths that stretched deep into the woods. This was one of the most anticipated craft shows, on our fall schedule. Costumed crafters strolled before us, as my mother & I sat with our wares. Our booth was always filled with pleasantries, as shoppers studied the different nationalities painted onto each wooden santa. Mom was wonderful at conversation, as well producing unique & unsurpassed pieces. Crafters are a warm and giving crowd, making it easy to befriend other exhibitors. It was great to see some of our fellows again, & check out their latest artwork.

The autumn breeze carried with it, the sounds of melodies played on old fashioned instruments. It carried wonderful smells too, like lavender & vanilla. The scents changed to that of delicious home cooked delicacies, as I neared the food vendor area. We looked forward each year, to the shredded chicken sandwiches & homemade candies.

This year was to be as any other…fun, welcoming, & profitable. But, this time with an added perk. My father was to come to the show to visit me. We’d lived in different states for several years now. It always made me feel good when he’d make the drive, to whatever show he could. He arrived in good spirits, and after making sure that mom could hold down the fort, we took a walk. Things seemed to have eased between us, these days. I was learning to be a grown-up, a wife, and recently, a new mom. We’d gained a better understanding of one another & seemed to have more to discuss now. Dad asked me all about his granddaughter. He hadn’t seen her since our Easter visit. It was great to watch him lift her up & make her laugh. I looked forward to bringing the whole family for a future visit. I hooked my arm, into his, as we walked. For an hour, we perused pottery, hand-hewn chairs, & dried flowers, as we inquired about one another’s lives. His smile made me feel as loved as ever, as if there weren’t so many miles between us.

The afternoon was drawing to a close. My father stopped at a wood carving booth, purchasing a trainset, for my daughter. The cars spelled out her unusual name. Nearing the parking area, we began saying our goodbyes & issuing preliminary goodbye hugs. I asked a stranger to take our photo, with my camera. I wanted to document this joyful afternoon with my dad. Besides, we didn’t get to see one another often. After a final squeeze and then a wave, I headed back to the booth.

“Prarie Peddler” had been an overall success, just as I’d expected. My mom and I talked all the way home about the goodies we’d found, the people we’d seen, & the good food we’d eaten. Fall gave way to winter, and the holidays came & went with all the usual excitement. Dad & I spoke on the phone, but I wasn’t able to make a road trip back up north, for Christmas. But, the Easter reunion would come soon enough. India would get more snuggles from her grandpa & I would too.

I don’t remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. All I know is that everything began to move in slow motion. Plans were made to drive to Ohio, for my father’s funeral. He’d passed, without warning. It didn’t seem real that he could be gone. I arranged time off work, and prepared for the drive. Cars filled with my siblings & their families trekked from state to state, to mark my father’s passing. It was both a tearful and joyful day, when we laid him to rest. Our family pulled together almost unconsciously, supporting each other…crying, laughing, hugging, & remembering. We knew where dad was & Who he was with. We were mostly sad for ourselves, as we missed him. I missed what he would never be a part of, in the lives of my children.

Looking back, those moments spent with my father, just walking, were a wonderful gift. Many times, I’ve thought, I wish I’d had more time. But, I did, that day, have him. His eyes and ears were open to just me. I loved him & he loved me. His love spilled over to India, as well, even though they’d never share anymore snuggles. My heart is so thankful, for the growing relationship that was budding, and for the walk in the woods.

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