The Artist’s Date: Week 7 Camas
Early that week I had a feeling to head over to Camas. It is a pretty small town outlying Vancouver. Growing up my memories of Camas were of its smell. I never liked driving through it with my parents because of the paper-mill gave off a rotten garbage odor. In the last few years the smell has not been as bad because of EPA rules that went into affect required upgrades that reduced toxins emitted into the air.
As I drove into the town I was surprised at how heavy the traffic was. It seems that the changes had encouraged growth since the last time that I had driven through the town itself. Right on the first block of the city was the paper-mill standing out like a sore thumb. Only a block away adorable shops lined the main strip. I always know where to find the shops of interest and in Camas it was no different. The shops that I love are always in the historical buildings which have their own special charm. I parked and the rain began to fall. I got out of my car and put my hood up. Rain stopped being a serious deterrent for me so long ago.
Sophisticated women were walking up and down the block and disappearing into the clothing boutique and antique shop. There were also hair and nail shops, natural medicine stores, body shops, a yoga studio, but of course my favorite was the antique and gift shop. The store keepers tended the front with check outs and people were moving from section to section. It was one of those stores that people rent a space to sell their items. You could find all kinds of trinkets from candles and lotions to Mason jars converted into soap dispensers. One section had all kinds of paper stamps. Another had a garden theme. The area that I settled in to search through for quite some time had antique pages from old books and encyclopedias. I imagined great ways to use these in my mixed media projects. I picked 4 maps of different areas that spoke to me.
A persistent customer seemed to be following me around the store and checkout was no exception. She moved right up to the counter as my items were being rung up and started a conversation about the prices. The clerk charged me almost double for the items before I questioned her. She rang them up at the correct price, but it still seemed inflated. I asked her about other points of interest. She said that a couple of new shops would be opening soon and to try back.
Some days I feel that my ability to be almost invisible works well for me, but on this afternoon I felt a put off by it. I didn’t feel like my needs were met satisfactorily. I continued walking up and down the street looking for other shops but didn’t find much else. It was now a charming town with a new appeal. I snapped some pictures and decided that I would come back on a sunnier day to try again.
The Artist’s Date: Week 8 Ridgefield
Ridgefield was another town that had been affected by industrial pollution, but doesn’t have an overly industrial feel to it. You can’t blink as you move through the little town or you will miss it. As I parked close to the overlook an old church caught my eye. I walked over to see the view of the overlook and could see the wildlife refuge below. It went for miles, but right below the overlook a train blasted by shaking the earth as it moved along. Next, I approached the lady outside of the wine/beer garden establishment washing her car. My friend had given me a tip that she also owned and managed the church for weddings and events and would probably let me take pictures of the grounds if I asked nicely. She was a little grumpy about it but warmed quickly up and wanted to have a conversation about my blog and such. She said that there was a lot of history in the town and that she would be happy to share it if I ever needed more.
I went down the street and looked at the antique store. Its personality reflected that of the town. It had bird post cards, bird art, doilies, tea sets and antique clothes. The owner wasn’t especially friendly, but did seem to be assisting other customers. I didn’t find anything that screamed at me so I moved on. I walked up and down the block and thought that the tiny bakery/cafe looked adorable. If I had been hungry I would have gone in to check it out. I remembered my friend’s suggestion of a store up on the hill, so I got back in my car to check it out. As I walked in, the owner immediately greeted me and was attentive to each customer that appeared. So much so that everyone in the store began talking to each other. I gave my own unsolicited advice to another customer who was having trouble deciding between two beautiful tops. I found some cute soy candles with subtle scents that I wanted to try. The whole shop had inspiring messages placed here and there. The kind that tell you to trust your ideas and to follow your dreams. She had journals for keeping ideas etc. Unique jewelry, candles, soups, lotions, specialty clothing, pillows, home decor, etc filled ever nook and cranny. If I had my own store, I would run it similar to this. Upon checkout I found the most beautiful wallet and commented on it. She told me that I have expensive taste. I agreed. I think it is more about having the artist’s eye. You recognize finery and quality when you see it.
From this exchange I learned that even though we go on our date alone, people still play an important role in our experiences and our take away. One week I felt ignored and feelings of being a burden crept in to my date. The second week I was intentional in my approach. I went out with the idea that I was going to be outgoing and interactive with those I came in contact with. The result was that the people that I encountered me noticed me. Additionally, the final clerk was skilled in her approach as she tried to “see” me. She was there in the moment with her shop full of customers and “noticing” things about each one that I’m sure aid her in successful sale numbers and return patrons.