As with many of my tales, this goes back a long way. When our younger boys were growing up, one of them formed a close friendship with a lad here in town. Their closest tie, perhaps, was their mutual love of hunting. The town kid really appreciated the privilege of going out to the farm, where he could ignore the "No Hunting" postings and roam at will with our sons and their dad.
Shortly after our boys were off to college their dad's arthritic problems made it impossible for him to take to the fields when the season opened, so he made a deal with their friend. Dan could hunt on our land whenever he chose if, in return, he would stock our freezer with ready-to-cook birds. It was a perfect system.
Later, after my husband passed away, I lost track of our friend who by that time had moved from Marcus. Sometime after that, I learned that he had mastered the potter's craft, had married and become the father of an adorable little girl, and that they were moving back to town. Here they opened a pottery and also began cultivating an incredible garden.
Renewing our friendship, he chose to carry on the tradition of bringing their harvest to my door --vegetables now, instead of game. I hadn't enjoyed such bounty since I'd quit gardening on my own ! Of course, I was never allowed to pay them, so at Christmas I decided to send them a gift certificate from a local eatery, hoping to even things up a bit.
To my chagrin, it didn't work, for they were the ones who immediately "got even". The day before Christmas their sweet youngster appeared at my door with a plateful of holiday goodies which my guests and I polished off in no time. When the plate was bare, I discovered that it was one of their beautifully crafted pieces delicately painted with green leaves and red berries -- the plate I love on my kitchen shelf.
About two years ago, they moved their operation to Branson, which is a real crafters' mecca, as most of you know. My son and his wife described a huge climate-controlled marketplace there, called the Engler Block. In it are thirty individually-owned shops in which to browse and observe all manner of Ozark artistry and craftsmanship. Here was where they spotted the little candle holder.
No wonder my daughter-in-law knew, as soon as she saw it, that it was something I'd love to have. Now the very next thing I must do is find my friends' Branson address and let them know of this happy coincidence.