Thursday, June 24, 2010

Miss Shirley Stories

Back in the day when Miss Shirley was living outside Peterborough, Ontario, she ran a small gift shop.  Putting her artistic talent to work, she spent as much, or more time, decorating the venue as she did making sales.  Everywhere one looked, there were things to peak one's interest, to make one want to linger, to draw one into a world of beauty and grace.

Down to the river Miss Shirley would go, looking for just the perfect big and small stones, rocks or boulders to fashion into her signature pieces:  Ladybugs.  Outside the entrance she positioned a 35 pound smooth rock that paint and imagination had turned into the resident Queen Bug.  You knew you were at the right place when you saw the fat, smiling Ladybug at the door, welcoming you in.


Inside, you would find Miss Shirley smiling at you from behind her polished eye-glasses, the sunlight glancing off her gold hoop earrings as she tilted her head towards you in greeting. 

--Come on in and make yourself at home, she would sing out to visitors.  Look around and let me know if you need assistance.

Children can be like bulls in a china shop, as Miss Shirley well knew,  having raised three boys of her own.  The consummate hostess, she welcomed children in her shop inspite of it all.  She devised a way to entertain them and put things on offer especially for small shoppers with even smaller budgets. 

While strolling the local beach, she selected pocketfuls of small, smooth stones, perfectly shaped for fashioning into little ladybugs.  In her free time, she used nature-resistant (read: rain, rust, neglect) automotive paints to transform the rocks into adorable bugs.   Placed artfully on display shelves low enough to catch the eyes of small tykes, they were tantalizing to shoppers of a certain age. 

--How much are the Ladybugs, Miss Shirley?

--How much do you have to spend?

--Ten cents, he proudly announced.

--Well, the one you are holding in you hand is going to be three cents.

--What about this one, he asked with a frown?

--It seems to be the same size as the first one, so it will be three cents also.

It was a sale!  The little boy lovingly carried his purchase to the chair by the door while he waited for his mother to finish her shopping.  It wasn't too long before he was back at the shelf with the collection of Ladybug rocks. 

--Miss Shirley, can you please tell me how much this Ladybug will cost?

--It's a bit smaller than the other two, isn't it?  I guess that one is two cents.

Another sale!  Miss Shirley gets tears in her eyes as she recounts the end of this short story:  as the little boy walked away with his three little rock Ladybugs, he said,

--Now we are a family.

Now, doesn't that just warm the cockles of your heart and put a smile on your lips?  Don't you wish we could go back in time and visit Ye Olde Shoppe ourselves to be entranced  by wimsy and grace too?  Elizabeth Barrett Browning once penned these words that seem appropriate here:

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.


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