Terry Fowler

A Craft Shop off the Interstate

It was after almost a thousand miles of interstate culture – gas bars with unskilled and indifferent attendants, nauseatingly recurring retail chains, and huge malls with labyrinthine access roads. We were approaching Walterboro, South Carolina, on the second day of our late March trip to Florida from Toronto. A noncorporate sign on I-95 promised a shop that sold “arts and crafts” at the next exit.

It was 5:30 pm and we still had a hundred miles to go, but Shelly said, “Oh, can we just stop and look at something that’s real?” So we took the exit, passed the Denny’s, the McDonald’s, and the gas stations all aimed like howitzers at the highway, and followed the signs through the town to the store, some three or four miles.

A final left turn took us on to a two lane road completely roofed by trees.

“There it is – on the right.” A grooved dirt drive with grass in the middle curved around towards the back of a large old house, where we found a shaded, partly graveled parking lot for half a dozen cars. But we were alone. A quick check revealed that the shop had closed at 5:00 pm. Acutely disappointed, we got out of the car anyway.

For a moment we stood without words, feeling empty. The breeze blew softly through the huge trees, and the sun slanted softly across the grounds. Gratefully, we soaked up the serenity and the quiet. It was as if we were on another planet. The right one.

Several large shards of hand blown glass had been placed, partially upright, in various locations around the grounds. In front of us, one rosy piece leaned against a container of water about two feet across. The setting sun reflected off the ripples into a part of the glass that reached above the surface of the water. It looked as if the glass itself was moving. The golden rays poured themselves through the leaves, off the water, and across our cheeks.

It took a few seconds for me to notice that both of us were weeping.