But let's start at the beginning. And remember the man in the white cap watching the rain.
Lewiston, NY sits near a couple of Great Lakes, the Canadian border and Niagara Falls. It is a vibrant area, to say the least. The town makes much of its historic roots and the main street, Center, is lined with charming shops and Victorian homes. So far, so good. I have wanted to try this show for a while. It had a good reputation and it fell on a weekend that is normally available for me. Well, the 2nd Chautauqua show is that weekend, but what are the odds of being called off the wait list for that show?
So, of course, Chautauqua calls me Thursday night. There's been a last minute cancellation. Can I do the show? I told them they were breaking my heart, but, no, I could never be ready by morning and, besides, I was committed to Lewiston. I hoped I was making the right choice.
Set up went smoothly. We had a nice spot, good neighbors. Rain was predicted and it came but it was light and didn't seem to affect the show much. I was content.
Sunday I was going to be doing the show solo. Russell was expecting a guy to work on our house, so he dropped me off and, after settling me in with coffee and a muffin, headed home. My photographer neighbor was watching the weather radar on his cell phone.
"There's a big one coming", he announced, showing me the alarming red blob on the radar heading in from Toronto. As if on cue, big drops of rain started and I pulled all my things behind the tent under cover and settled in to wait it out. The fat drops turned into a heavy rain (see video). My spirits fell. The rain slowed. I got happier.
The couple that had taken refuge with us ventured out, but the man stayed. And stayed. It was OK with me. He was chillin'. My neighbor waved his cell phone at me. "That wasn't it", he said, "the big one is coming now!"
OK, I thought I'd humor him and went to pull my front panels closed. And walked into ..I dunno..Hell? The Wizard of Oz? Sudden pounding rain and hail , blowing into the tent horizontally, the winds so strong I couldn't open my eyes to see what I was doing, the flaps of the tent blowing in and, before I could grab them, straight back out into the street. I was soaked through, my clothes clinging to me (not a pretty sight), my hair plastered to my head (equally unpretty). I couldn't quite reach the top of the panels to pull them closed and then a hand reached over my head and pulled one panel to the center and called "hold this!" and then the man in the white cap pulled the other panel to meet it, trying to zip it, but the wind and the rain made it impossible.
"Your stuff is getting ruined, get it, I'll hold this!" he yelled and so I did, piling everything on the middle shelves to keep the rain away while he tried to hold the panels together. When I was done, I reached up and was finally able to zip the front of the booth closed.
Now we were out of the storm but we could hear it raging. A river ran through the back of booth. Thunder pounded. For the first time ever at a show I felt fear. What if this was a tornado? But the man in the white cap was calmly peeking over the top of the curtains, watching the spectacle and that was reassuring. He didn't look scared.
Then I saw my books. Soaked and already started to curl. Looked like a total loss to me. I was dejected.
From inside our little safe haven, I could hear traffic on the street. That was odd, the man said. I wondered if it was emergency vehicles. He peeked over the top again, but couldn't see. When the rain and wind finally slowed, we opened the front and saw vans lined up, packing up to go home. I looked up and saw blue sky coming. My neighbor came over, cell phone in hand, showing me that behind that scary blob, coming at us now was...nothing.
"I'm staying!" he said, and I said I was, too.
Oh, there was a rumor going around that there was more coming and we were supposed to pack up, but it was just that. A rumor. Some people had no choice. There were canopies destroyed, art work ruined. But many of us took a deep breath, looked at the promising blue sky and regrouped.
My guardian angel took his leave after making sure all was OK, waving off my effusive thanks. I would have hugged him, but that would have only served to make him wetter.
I put my small journals in the rack meant for my ruined, large ones. I spread the rest of the stuff out, trying to fill the gaps.
The minute we opened the flaps, customers came and they continued to come, even as more artists brought their vans to the street and packed up.They were happy to see we were still there. And I was happy to see Russell coming with dry clothes for me.
In the end, we had pretty good sales, all things considered.
But, I swear, if this had been our first year doing outdoor shows, Monday morning there would have been a new posting on Craigs list:
For Sale, used art canopy and display racks. Cheap. Slightly damp.
No offer refused.
But, it's not our first year, it's maybe our 10th or 12th. I know that, as Annie said, the sun will come out tomorrow.
Now if I can just make it come out on a weekend.