Swap meets are a mad, crazy fiesta for the senses. Today the wind thrashed through our hair and clothes, blowing wrappers away before I could catch them. The smells of barbeque tangled with the scent of incense. The air in one row was warm enough to prompt jacket-removal, but the next aisle brought cold air and jacket-retrieval. Background noise was a mix of kids’ voices, vendors’ deal-making, oldies music and airplanes overhead. Textures were different in every stall: embossed leather, bumpy grapefruits, cold metal jewelry and plastic toys. The wind blew through bamboo chimes and caused bobble-headed toys to nod emphatically.
It’s great for people watching, too. The customers are as varied as the products sold. There are people of all ethnicities and ages. Some are there just to wander, and others leave with an arc full of necessities. The stall with vintage toys may butt up against the one with new sunglasses.
Discount shoes are neighbors to antique tools, fresh fruit, old car parts and new t-shirts (5 for $10). It’s an eclectic mix. The only predictable element is its unpredictability.
Today I learned a lesson about predicting what I would find at the meet. I learned not to expect what I’d found last time. Today’s excursion was prompted by frogs. A year ago I’d bought some small ceramic frogs at this very swap meet, and I’d incorporated them into my tile mosaic art
pieces. They made a charming accent. I was ready for more frogs, and I even remembered the area of the swamp meet where I’d found them last year.
That’s where my trouble began. There’s some force in the universe at work, I’m afraid. If you go to a swap meet with a specific agenda, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed. The very make up of swap meets is a mixed assortment and the ingredients change from week to week. That is part of the
fun: stumbling across something intriguing. Of course, the downside is that you can’t always get what you got last time, and today I was reminded of that lesson.
My first stop left me frogless but I persevered. After all, it had been a year or more since I’d bought those frogs. Maybe I was fuzzy on which stall sold them. Subsequent aisles also left me frogless, and laps around the other aisles also did not yield frogs. It was a little annoying but it was fun at the same time. Wandering is therapeutic. You open yourself to possibilities when you take the time to meander. At one stall, I found some vintage rick rack for $1, and an aisle over I bought a gorgeous plant (it’s a gift so I won’t show photos of it until after it’s been given.). I’ve never seen a plant like this and I’m fascinated by its coloration.
I left without the ceramic frogs I’d hoped to find but it was not a futile experience. The swap meet is where you may stumble across a treasure. The serendipity of it is why you go. If you absolutely had to buy a specific thing that day, you’d go to a retailer. Am I a little disappointed to have left frogless? Sure. But I’ll take the trade-off. The adventure is worth it.