Estate Sale

An artist lives here. There are abstract sculptures on the front lawn. A 15 foot long swordfish made of copper and wires. It reminds me of that famous sturgeon on the Hudson, near The Bridge Formerly Known as Tappan Zee. There is a giant bird, wire and metal, with a 10 foot wingspan, hanging in the breezeway.

A steel cash box on a folding table, and two women sitting in folding chairs behind it. These people are strangers to this house. A company, hired by a faraway family member to sell off the stuff, because the house has been sold.

Inside, the familiar smell of an old house, well-lived in, well-loved, and the faint scent of dust, on things collected, over a lifetime.

The kitchen island is covered in dishes. So many serving platters. Vintage Pyrex, and fine china. Dozens of teeny tiny tea cups and saucers, each more intricately decorated than the last.

In the living room, Christmas lights are strung from the ceiling, and decorations hang there on hooks. Hundreds of balls and baubles, snowmen and Santa heads.

Tables and chairs. Hutches and a roll top desk. Black and white photos. Matted vignettes.

An old wooden window frame strategically covered with pieces of blown glass catches my eye, and stirs something in my spirit. Leaning against the wall, it looks like a window full of sea glass. Blues. Greens. Aquamarines. If it were hanging where the sunlight could shine through, it would be magnificent. An artist lived here.

Upstairs, I finger through folded linens, laid out on the bed, embroidered and embellished, so delicate they might crack. I feel the felt of vintage hats, some still in their original boxes, and wrapped in paper, from Dobbs in New York City.

Downstairs, I slide the hangers across the coat closet rack. A suede blazer, a homemade Halloween costume, a mink stole, a formal gown.

Outside, in the breezeway, under the giant bird, I hear a folded woman say ‘He kept himself very busy in his retirement.’ ‘But he wasn’t very good, though’ a man replied.

I stand in the garage, filled with homemade doll houses, tools, art supplies and shelves full of miscellaneous things. VHS movies, books, WD-40. A crock pot. A Kodak slide carousel. Things collected over a lifetime.

I’m not sentimental about belongings, but these things, in this moment, are alive. They are speaking to me. They tell a story of a man who spent his golden years turning scraps of glass and wood and metal into art. They tell a story of his wife who died too many years earlier, who loved sipping tea, passing time in the kitchen, and gathering the family to celebrate their Christmases at the lake.

They tell a story of children who spent their summers here, on the back porch, drawing pictures, playing board games, working on jigsaw puzzles. They tell a story of grandchildren, who visited less and less, as life so demanded. Who moved away and moved on…

Random objects on a shelf. I snap a photo. It tells the story of a lifetime, collected.

An undeniable work of art.

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