Almost every August since the age of eight, I've gone to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair in Sunapee State Park. At first, I visited with my summer camp, a treat for all of us girls though we had to wear our humiliatingly unattractive camp uniforms (yellow shirts, green shorts) that made us as inconspicuous as circus clowns.
Even after summer camp, I returned to the Fair as a college student and then as an adult -- in outfits of my own choosing -- with friends or with my husband Ted. By that time, I'd gotten to know many of the artisans whose work I collected, potters mostly but also some jewelers and textile artists.
One year, at least 25 years ago, I bought my first spoon from master carver Dan Dustin. And, over the years, I've purchased at least one spoon from Dan every August, at the Fair.
When you purchase one of Dan's spoons, you really need to try it on, just as you'd try on a pair of shoes. The spoons choose you; if the spoon is right for you, the handle will snuggle into the curves of your fingers, and the weight will feel balanced in your palm.
Can you spot the spoon that's a quarter of a century old?
Dan sells his spoons directly from his studio in Contoocook, New Hampshire, or at the Fair every August. That's where I buy them, at his popular booth that's always crowded with fans of his work. People come from all around the country to choose a spoon, and to listen to his spoon stories.
Though I don't see the girls at Dan's booth, some years I spot a few yellow shirts with green shorts wandering around the Fair. The spoons cost a bit more than the average camp girl's allowance, but those girls will grow up and have kitchens of their own, and I know they'll come back to the Fair to buy their first spoon.
I know, because that's what I did.
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