• Ashley

Part 1: The Book

It was sometime in the Spring of 2015 when my husband had been tipped off about an old barn full of goodies. He reluctantly told me about it, knowing exactly what divulging such information to me would lead to, and within minutes, children were strapped in carseats and we were off to treasure hunt. Upon entering the old barn I was met with that unmistakable scent of mildew, hay, and rodent nests.


And spiders.


Do spiders have a smell?


Well, these did.


I started digging around and found peaking out from behind a mountain of stacked up plywood and mattresses, an antique Jenny Lind style headboard. It was covered in years of dust, old wet hay, countless spider webs (the smelly kind), and some sketchy droppings from an animal I never did identify. Along with that, I scored a vintage dresser, and some old mirrors with dreamy, ornate frames, that miraculously had not been broken. After finding those bigger pieces, I saw an old ladder nailed to a wall that reached up through an opening into the loft of the barn. I placed one foot on the bottom rung, immediately questioned whether or not this insect eaten climbing device could hold my weight, and figured I'd go for it.


Go slow.

Test each rung.

I could hear my mother in the back of my head saying "make good choices!"


I glanced around for a few minutes, taking careful, well placed steps onto areas of floor that seemed sturdy enough to support an adult woman who may or may not have been holding on to a little baby weight. The space was filled mainly with old auto parts and random pieces of scrap metal and broken boards. Nothing as exciting as my Jenny Lind. As I yelled to my husband from the loft of the barn that I was good to go, and had found all I planned to keep, I noticed a huge pile of old books that had been knocked over and scattered at some point in the last few decades. They were covered in the same dust, damp hay, and mystery droppings that the other pieces were and therefore, ruined. I did however noticed a small section of books that seemed relatively dry and unspoiled, so I picked up a few to take a peak. One of the books had a lovely green cover, somewhere between hunter and emerald, that really spoke to me from under the pile. I pulled it out from under the others, dusted it off, and read the cover.



Poetry.

Lovely.

I'm not going to pretend to be a lover of poetry by any means, I mean, the extent of my poetic prowess begins and ends with Roses are Red, but still, I appreciate the art of it.


And the gold embellishments on top of the green?

Heart eyes for days.


I opened it, and inside the front cover was this small tag showing where the book came from.



I love fonts I can't read. Makes me feel illiterate but fancy, and I'm totally cool with that.


And that font combination?

Swoon.


H.A. IVES.

Bookseller & Stationer

MILLS ST. VENTNOR, I.W.


Through a bit of Googling, I have learned Ventnor I.W stands for the town of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, England.


A tiny island in England?


Super swoon.


Then I opened the first page, and the moment that followed quickly became one of those moments that made me feel so happy and honored to be in the presence of this item.




Dear Emmie

with Uncle and Aunties best love

Jany 25th, 1888


This book had been around for more years than I could really comprehend at that moment, and not because I don't have a grasp on time or history, but because this fragile thing was made of paper and twine and ink, all materials that can be instantly destroyed by a bit of moisture or rough handling, and yet it had somehow survived being purchased over a century ago from a bookseller (I bet it was a small shop with stone streets outside the front door and an oil lantern at the front counter. Just saying) on an island, at some point crossed the ocean, made it to farm country in the middle of America, and over the course of time had been forgotten, and left in a pile in the loft of a damp, abandoned, mystery rodent infested barn.


But it was still here.

Just waiting for someone to love it again.


I may not be a poetry buff, but I had to have it regardless. It may just have been a book, but separate from the words printed inside, it had its own secret story. I felt immediate respect for it, and putting it back down amongst the wet hay and darkness was not an option. I tucked the book under my arm, and made my way down to the stinky antiques loaded truck.


Up until that day, I had always known myself to be a creative person. I was always dreaming up new projects, and trying to find ways to create beauty in our home. Some projects were successes and others never made it off the ground or fizzled out due to lack of proper planning or my ever-changing mind deciding that the current venture was in fact, a big dumb flop. It was the days following the big book rescue that a little light started to flicker inside of me, and I felt a strong urge to create like I hadn't before.


I wanted to make something. I wanted people to love what I made. I wanted whatever it was I was going to make to not only bring joy but to become part of people lives for the long haul. I wanted to create something that gave people the same warm feeling that the book gave me. Not a craft, or trinket, but something substantial that they would really use, and rely on, and love. I wanted to make SOMETHING out of the something I was going to make.


I wanted to make others swoon.


Nay.


Super swoon.


I sat at our dining table while my girls napped and thought about how I could help this little spark grow, and what it would grow into. Several years of being a stay at home mom had my brain in a bit of a creative funk, but I was bound to start something and not let that little light go dark. No thoughts came. No good ones anyways. Silence.


I went outside onto the porch to take in a little sun and clear my head, and from the corner of my eye, there sat the Jenny Lind headboard, still propped up against the garage door where we had left it to "air out".


The spark bounced, flickered, danced erratically, and grew larger and brighter until it suddenly flashed and went out, leaving a small, steady flame standing in its place.



To be continued....





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