Stop and Shop and Shop
It would have been simple if we had just gone to the mountains and relaxed and walked and did a little hiking as we had planned. But the day after we arrived in Mammoth Lakes in northeastern California, she told me about the shop we had passed twenty-four hours and forty miles back.
"It's down in Bishop," she said.
"What's down in Bishop?" I asked. We had stopped in the small town for gas, but aside from a decent price for gas, I didn't remember much more than that we were there.
"I saw a window there with writing on it."
"Writing? What kind of writing?"
"Well, it was really printing."
"Printing? What kind of printing?"
"I'm not sure. I saw an F and an A and maybe a B."
"You were driving too fast to see it all. It was a little blurry."
"There was more?"
"I think it was F-A-B-R-I-C," she said. We couldn't have been going more than 25 miles an hour at that time, but even if I had been going a hundred, she would not have missed a sign about sewing or fabric or quilts even if the letters had been only an inch high.
"I think so."
"But you're not sure?"
"I'm almost certain."
"And, I suppose, you want to drive back forty miles to see if the blurry letters you saw were part of a sign on a fabric shop?"
"You got it, Babe."
So, of course, after lunch we drove back down the mountain to the town of Bishop and, sure enough, there was a shop there that had a large sign on it that read, "FABRIC." And underneath was the shop's name: "Sew It Seams."
"That was really a nice shop," she said afterwards as she put the bag of quilting books and stash into the car.
"That was a nice shop," I agreed, "and you spent all our gas money for the week. I guess we'll have to stay here forever."
"Don't be silly," she said. "Besides, there's another place to stop."
"The Fabric Store," she said. "I saw it as we were coming into town before. I don't know how I missed it yesterday." I didn't know how she missed it either. Somehow, she never misses.
"Didn't you go to a fabric store with a similar name when we stopped last month in Memphis?" I remembered because I just recently made out a check to pay the bill. I wondered how many fabric shops with the same name existed.
"That was a shop, not a store," she answered without hesitation. "The Fabric Shop," she said.
"You remember the exact name of the shop in Memphis?" Of course she would. If the name had the word fabric in it, she would remember it. If the name hinted at fabrics or sewing or quilting, she would remember it.
"Of course," she said. "Now drive."
I drove. An hour later, having stopped again at the second shop, and having spent our gas money for the year, we were on our way back up the mountain. Only a half mile from where we were staying, just before I was home safe, she saw another sign. She let out a little yelp. I checked my wallet.
"Fabrications," she said. I looked. Among a strip of small shops about a block away, she had seen the sign.
"Good eyes," I said. I didn't want to think about another fabric shop. I really wanted to get up to the lakes and walk around and breathe the clean high mountain air. Though it was middle June, some of the lakes were frozen over and much snow still covered the mountains. I wanted to walk in the snow.
"Stop there," she said, and she pointed into the parking lot in front of what turned out to be a "darling" fabric shop. No doubt Noah had two fabric shops aboard the Ark just waiting to reproduce. And reproduce they did, even there in Mammoth Lakes.
I stopped and we went in and she shopped.
We are home now, home in a town where we have two quilt shops and three fabric shops, but is she satisfied? No. She wants to see every fabric and quilt shop in the country. How many of them are there? I don't want to know. I don't want her to know. The adventure for her is to sniff them out, to traipse around the countryside, to wander along the freeways and by-ways and back roads until her nose, her eyes, and her intuition all tell her there is another shop just over there, over here, anywhere.
She loves to be at home in her sewing room, but every once in a while when we go on a trip to see the family or see the sights, she knows, I mean, she really knows if there is a fabric shop or quilt shop anywhere. And when she says, "Drive," I drive, and as I drive, she will raise her nose and lean her head and sniff for stash. If there's a shop within fifty miles of us, a hundred miles, she points me in the right direction.
Copyright A.B. Silver 1998
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