I just began working part time at a little main street gallery--a good, charming, quiet place. It's been around for 30 years so everyone knows the owner and loyalty abounds. Already I've run into people I have not seen for a long time, so it will be a fun place to be, especially over the holidays. Personally, it's a good diversion from my VERY empty nest, but I hope to make a contribution to the business with attentive service, artsy touches and a warm welcome to all.
Yesterday I helped open the shop. It's fall and the leaves blow into the foyer with this glorious mosaic floor. Everyone needs to be welcomed in by noticing the art upon which they trod, so I attempted the first (of what will be many) sweepings of the mosaic foyer.
Why is this even worth a blog post? It's for me, actually, so I will remember and capture the feeling of sweeping the entrance of the shop in the morning. It takes me back to Bellagio, Italy and other small towns in Europe. Every morning the shop keepers sweep and wash the entrances to their shops. They take great pride in tidiness and welcoming in the patrons, who more likely than not, are long time customers and friends. It's a way of life, sweeping the sidewalk and opening every day for business.
The sweeping reminds me of baguettes at the bakery in Paris and the handmade trinkets in Bellagio. And the stern German fraus who take pride in cleanliness and tidiness, through whom one must look long and hard for the love and warmth hidden inside. Shop keepers who sweep and wash the community sidewalks don't rush at our 'modern pace.' They harken back to the health of community and making time to stand around for a chat, about the weather or the neighbor's begonias, or the new dog that seems to have shown up begging for scraps. This is what I thought about when I was sweeping...
In our lives filled with meetings and speedy devices and So Many Important Things, taking time to sweep away the leaves from the entrance of the shop seems inconsequential and a poor use of time, especially if the town will (eventually) do it anyway. We are quick to abandon these small things, are we not? Things than contribute to community and remind us that life need not move at light speed all the time. Maybe someone will create at app called "Sweep." It won't do the job a broom and a tidy shopkeeper will do, that's for sure.