Thursday, September 23, 2010

Generational Serendipity

When I was 13 years old, some brave family friends took me, along with my best friend, Sue and their own three kids to the New York State Renaissance Festival. They may have even brought additional kids, but I honestly can’t remember. In fact, I don’t remember much about that day: long rows of porta-johns, long lines for funnel cakes, a wooden bridge. That’s near everything. But one event from that long ago excursion remains crystal clear.

I hadn’t brought much money with me—certainly not enough for a souvenir at the arts fair prices found at the festival. At one point I remember browsing a stand of pewter figurines; dragons, fairies, warriors, some as small as my finger, some large and spectacular, perched on rock crystals or holding dazzling jewels in their silvery talons. I gazed longingly at the beautiful statues, wishing I had the means to take one of them home with me, but I knew it wasn’t to be.

Then the lady, decked out in period costume, who was running the stand called to me. “You know,” she said, “I need to run to the rest room. Would you mind watching my stand for me?” I looked around. Me? I was the only person at the stand. Honored by her trust, I said, “Sure.” With a grateful smile she wandered off toward one of those long rows of biffs, leaving me basking in the reflected glow of dozens of metal and crystal sculptures.

It must have been early in the day, because not one other person stopped to look at the stand while its proprietor was gone. After a short time, she returned from her errand and thanked me for my help. “You’re welcome,” I said. As I was about to go, she held out a hand to stop me.

“Here,” she said, pressing something into my hand. “For your help.”

Wide-eyed, I looked down at the tiny pewter dragon she had gifted to me, no more than an inch tall, with a curled tail and open mouth, detailed down to its tiny claws and the scales on its body. I was astonished and gratified. Grinning back at her like an idiot, I thanked her and ran off to find the rest of my companions and show them my newly acquired treasure.

I never shared that story with my husband and children. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until about a month ago, when I came across the little pewter dragon in a box that had been under our stairs for twelve years. I moved it to the vanity top in my closet, expecting there would be a time to show it to the kids and tell them about its origins. But life kept moving at its breakneck pace and school started and there the tiny dragon sat, forgotten once again.

This past weekend, I took my daughter to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. The first hour or so of the day she couldn’t contain her excitement, jumping and squeaking with glee every couple minutes. She wanted to see everything RIGHT NOW and I practically chanted, “one thing at a time, Ledon,” as we walked/ran from booth to booth. Wooden games and ceramic instruments, floral headpieces, copper sculpture, face painting, hair braiding, soaps, swings, food stands, and performance areas, midway-type attractions, a petting zoo, and a place to ride an elephant. Complete sensory overload! It was marvelous to see her experience it all for the first time.

To keep her from exploding entirely, I kept our pace even, stopping in to look at every merchant’s wares and encouraging her to see everything before deciding what type of souvenir she might want. At every stop, she would find half a dozen things that she “wanted for sure” and I would say, “We’ve been here less than an hour. Just keep your eyes open.”

In one corner of the grounds, the row of shops along the outside wall was mirrored by a few free-standing booths, one selling incense, another costume hats and another small ceramics. We stopped at this last, as I was thinking of buying a hand-made coffee mug. As we browsed, the proprietor engaged us in friendly conversation. It was very early in the day and traffic was light—he was still removing the previous weeks’ cobwebs from some of his items and adding things to the shelves. Eiledon babbled about how this was her first time at the fair and she was SO excited and it was SO cool, and on and on. The man smiled at her good-naturedly as he worked and commented whenever he could get a word in edgewise.

As we were preparing to move on, the shopkeeper called Eiledon over. “See this dragon?” he said, holding a ceramic statue about six inches high. Eiledon nodded and smiled. “His tail broke—see there? Just the tip of it broke off. I can’t sell him—would you like to have him?”

I gaped.

Eiledon accepted, of course, and then helped the man dig through a few other broken pieces of pottery to see if they could find the broken tail. At length the man did find it and handed it to Eiledon. “You can glue it back on with superglue or epoxy,” he said. “Let me wrap it up for you.”

“I have to tell you both a story,” I said then, still a little overcome by the coincidence. And I shared what had happened at my first Renaissance Festival.

The shopkeeper was nonplussed. “That’s amazing!” he said, finally. “You’ve come full circle.” I nodded. I almost felt like crying. “Well, it’s meant to be, then,” he finished, handing the wrapped dragon to Eiledon. “Enjoy your day!”

At that point, I don’t see how we could’ve done otherwise!


  1. Wonderful & amazing story. How fun for all. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That's amazing, Bek. Are your dragons friends now? I'm sure they are! :) At first I really thought he was going to ask you to watch his stuff while he took a turn at the loo! Then I'd get to call you Lulu! hugs! :)

  3. There's no such thing as "coincidences". :) Very cool.

  4. Awesome. It brought a tear to my eye.

  5. Thank you for taking the time from your day to share that story - it was lovely & amazing.

  6. Bek,


    Dad ;o)