I was walking quickly through a thrift store in December when a little oil painting grabbed my attention amidst the plastic shelves of NASCAR souvenirs and lacquered brass candlesticks.
As soon as I saw it I scooped it up, immediately liking the simple wooden frame and the pretty colors. Only when I was wandering another aisle did I turn the frame over and see the faded sticker identifying the frame maker. In turquoise capital letters:
SANTA ROSA BEACH
When I was a child, my grandparents lived in the Florida panhandle. Specifically, in Santa Rosa county. I remember visiting the beach: we would drive over in the morning with energy and a picnic lunch and drive home in the afternoon with stringy, salty hair, shifting around on damp, sandy beach towels in the warm back seat. I remember the fun of arriving: padding fast over the hot blacktop in the parking lot, running across a rough wooden walkway that cut between the bluffs with their long, tan grasses, then finally slipping and tripping down the white sand toward the gulf.
So a girl from Mississippi, finds a painting of a beach from Florida, in a shop in Iowa... I took my niece antique shopping and she asked me, "Why do people buy old stuff?" This is why.