Venturing out Anyway

I’m going to be honest with you: This week’s adventure was tough to come by. Remember those very recent ramblings about squeezing stuff in even though there’s work and life and whatnot? Well life and whatnot happened. As it will. And it would’ve been easy to beg off from anything resembling an adventure, with some very good justifications: I’ve been sick. I was on call this week and didn’t sleep well. It’s been raining and thundering the last few days so outdoor opportunities have been scarce. I woke up Saturday and had to take McGraw to the vet unexpectedly, and of course have been worried about the poor little guy (he had to get eye drops; so far, so good). It’s humid out and my hair was sure to fall. Okay, so some justifications were better than others. But hey, I’m a Texas girl and my big hair is part of the package! Anyway, it would have been nice to just rest and stay snuggled in all day, enjoy the grey drippy dreariness in all its glory. But, you know what? …

I also owed it to myself to pry my body out of the couch groove I’d been recuperating in and enjoy the weekend while it’s here – do something nice for Me which I knew I’d be glad of afterwards. So, after making sure lil’ guy had happily eaten his breakfast and had eye drops administered, I got myself put together and went with my sister to the Bluewater Bay Cultural Arts Festival, with grey clouds looming overhead.

Bluewater Bay is a cute little community on the north side of the Choctawhatchee Bay – the bay that’s a few blocks from my house and spreads miles eastward from there. It’s centered around a golf course and Rocky Bayou (an inlet from the bay) and dotted with blue-and-white signs announcing the different neighborhoods as you meander through. The bay and marina complex are nestled in at the end.

We parked in the gravel between live oaks, and a golf cart pulled up to whisk us in to the festival. Our driver asked if we had any questions, and when I asked what we needed to know as first-timers, he said “Well,” gesturing a broad sweep before us, “these are the art tents. If you go inside, there’s the marina.” With a satisfied nod, he waved us off the cart. We stepped off and looked back at my car, maybe a hundred feet away. Sometimes it’s about accepting the ride, whether you need it or not.

With classical guitar music drifting out from a man sitting in the middle of the grounds, we checked out a couple of tents displaying watercolor paintings of sailboats, meadows, and sea creatures. Next we came to two artists with handbeaded jewelry, and held earrings up to our ears, ran our fingers over long bead necklaces. Another jeweler had twisted silver spoons and forks into not only your typical finger-rings, but also earrings, bangles, and cute fork-tine elephant pendants, using baby-blue Larimar from the Dominican Republic, and other semi-precious stones to set off the silver. We passed by handmade cards, blown glass, photography, dog paintings, and rings made from old coins. After a quick step around the inside of the marina and briefly considering a drink at the packed bar, we instead headed back out the door and down a different row of tents. As we passed one, I stopped and pointed. “Oh I love, love these!” I exclaimed. We bustled over to investigate and found ourselves shaking hands with Nicole Hemmerly of MossHound Designs.

Nicole creates woven wall hangings from yarn and other fibers, and they’re stylish and seriously cool. If you lived through the seventies, you’ve probably seen the kind of hanging I’m talking about, and maybe even made your own macrame version when you were, oh, say, eight and in the Brownies and had a field trip to go make a macrame owl from rust-orange yarn. Nicole’s are just a smidge better than that. They’re amazing. Sticking with sophisticated palettes, she starts with driftwood pieces or branches found on hikes with her husband and their dogs, and then using a loom, works in fluffy wool from her families’ Pennsylvania sheep farm, creamy white cotton cord, yummy strips of fabric, and the occasional wooden bead, and weaves it all into a breathtaking piece of art for your home. She also makes table linens, and even does custom work. (Because it’s just so awesome, here’s a link where you can find her work: ) We chatted with her, talking about our jewelry-making and the art festivals in the area, and before we left we felt like we’d made a new friend. After exchanging business cards and hugs, we made the 20-second walk back to the car, and drove away into the fog.

When I got home, McGraw stretched and wagged his tail at me, and I realized I, too, felt revived – more energized than I had in days, and the sky had even brightened up a bit. I was reminded, as I still sometimes need to be, that more often than not, ignoring the pull to stay home, turn down that invitation, or keep to yourself – turns out to be a happy decision. You never know what little discoveries are out there waiting for you, so shake it off and say Yes to all the opportunities your day brings!

Nicole Hemmerly, of MossHound Designs, with my sister

In the end, it’ not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.

-Abraham Lincoln