Today (Saturday) is our final Ashland day. We had thought we would leave this morning, but the weather over Siskiyou Pass looked ominous, so –poor us – we had to have another day of leisure. So even though I had already bought the Moira Kalman book and indulged myself by buying a sketch book with a pretty cover, I went shopping.
Ashland may be the only place I ever shop. Jer does the grocery shopping, and at most, in Portland, I go to Fred’s to buy underwear. But in Ashland, I pretend I am a consumer. This morning I inspected the stores in the stores.
The town is less full of artsy stores than it used to be — and the proprietor of one of our favorites, the Blue Heron, is retiring, closing up shop. We bought one of our first Oregon pieces of art in the Blue Heron, at least 20 years ago.
After mooning over the jewelry on sale at the Blue Heron, I proceeded down the Ashland Creek side of the Plaza to a store somewhat different from the high-toned Blue Heron: Renaissance Rose has no pretensions to art.
I’m sure I once bought a fake feather boa from Renaissance Rose, but it was pink.
Did I say Renaissance Rose is the opposite of the Blue Heron? I misspoke: Earthly Goods, the Eileen Fisher store that always reminds me that in my next life I’m going to be composedly elegant, is Rose’s opposite. I actually spent a moment yearning over the black and gray Fisher outfit in Earthly Goods window, although I didn’t bother to enter.
I took a quick gander around Bloomsbury’s Books, and got the photo of their Shakespeare shelves, but then went across the street to a store I fell absolutely in love with: Shakespeare Books and Antiques, LLC.
Not only is the LLC stuffed full of books, but the primary goods are somewhat eccentrically arranged: along with “Fiction” and “Biography” and “Oregon” and “Local” are shelves labeled “The Sixties –We Were There” and “Banned Books.” They also sell a button “I read banned books.”
I was astonished and delighted to see that Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady included among the banned reads, as I have always found James almost impossible to make sense of. The owners keep a ledger of their banned books, which they can consult to tell you where and why any given book was forbidden; I forgot to ask about James’ banishment because I found an art book for such a reasonable price that I snatched it up and had it sent back to Portland. There is a danger in going into stores; they sell things there.
So I escaped into the local art coop, Art and Soul, and had a fine conversation with a woman seemingly much younger than I, who confessed that she was only 81. I think she was fibbing; she looked about 60. However, I bought no art.
And so I meandered around town, in the snow, the hail, the sleet, the rain, and the sun, gawking at the optimism of the incomers:
Being once again pleased by the public library:
Taking one last look at the backside of the Elizabethan open-air theater for which Ashland first became famous:
Following the lower road over Ashland Creek so I could admire the view from the overpass:
And so back to The Bard Motel, where I spotted some buds that harbored signs of spring:
It’s good to have finished our adventure in Ashland — one which included Amour, a movie about a dying woman being cared for by her aged husband, King Lear, about the old King more foolish than his fool, and Quartet, featuring a nursing home full of musicians — with a chat with a painter and dyer of scarves ten years older than myself, and budding trees full of the sap of spring amidst the sleet.
Tomorrow we are off south, probably to Susanville, California — not far, but not Ashland either. –June
Two other thoughts: Quartet is excellent, and the Wikipedia article about the Shakespeare Festival is also quite good.