We are rowers and we make rowing themed jewelry, among other things. We are like groupies in the spring traveling every single weekend in April, May, June going to regattas all over the country, preferably on nice weather days, sometimes not so nice. This spring the Stotesbury Cup Regatta, usually held in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, was following a week of such tremendous downpours that the regatta committee feared cancellation was inevitable. I was filled with anxiety starting the Monday before the event, watching the rain, viewing the continued rainy forecast for the weekend. Who wants to buy jewelry in the cold rain? Who wants to even go to the regatta, much less linger to patronize the vendors? I was a nervous wreck- Stotesbury is a huge event for us- I feared disaster. And then like a ray from the heavens, I awoke Wednesday morning at 4:30am to the email that they had moved Image by Emma Lee/WHYY originally found in whyy.org article
the entire event over the river into Camden New Jersey, where the run off is less dramatic and the local rowing cub felt confident in their ability to handle the massive event, even under extremely short notice, and even under predicted continued massive rain and wind. The organizing committee arranged to house all the vendors under a big top tent rather than our dinky portable tents that would certainly struggle in the weather, if not fail completely. I cried in gratitude and elation for this life raft thrown us. We looked forward to the circus tent.
The event was a success. Check out the traffic here. Perhaps not as many people as would have attended had it not been howling wind and pouring rain, but pretty good considering that. Our set up was located adjacent to the medals presentation stage, so we were literally the thruway for athletes and fans alike coming and going, receiving medals and cheering for teammates. We had a long narrow space, and still they pushed through it in spite of the river running underfoot. We were happy for the traffic and accepting the jostling of bodies with good humor...until the following weekend.
The next weekend at the same venue was another large championship regatta. The US Schoolboys: The Scholastic Rowing Association of America's annual championships. Since it had continued to rain, the Camden County Park Authority took major steps to insure the venue wasn't a complete mud pit. They trucked in top soil, grass seed, hay, and to mitigate the damage done by the Stotesbury Regatta. The weather held. We were relatively pleased with business, until nearing the end when a vendor across the walkway brought us one of our earring stands covered in dirt and sand with just the ear wires remaining. We tipped it over: it had once housed a pair of $375 sterling silver and genuine ruby earrings. No more. The wires were bent forlornly, the T forming the top of the stand was skewed to a 45degree deranged angle. We assumed theft. How dare someone walk off with such valuable earrings! Why would someone not take the whole earrings rather than just the bottoms so they could be worn? Wait...maybe they weren't stolen at all. We thought about it, and come to think of it, those ruby earrings had not been seen since Stotesbury. We worked through the events: they had been knocked off a table, into the river of water in our booth at Stotes, they had been trampled, they had been run over by trucked, and loaded down with dirt and sand and hay and grass seed during the intervening week. We had recovered thanks to our neighbor, the ghost of the missing earrings. As much as I was distraught over the loss, it was clearly an excellent sign that the stand and wires had been recovered at all. At the end of the regatta I combed the grass, dirt, hay where the other vendor's booth had been and actually looked for the missing ruby earrings. A needle in a hay stack! I could feel my euphoria in successfully finding them. I'd jump up and exclaim to my mom: AHA!! Victorious!!! No luck though. Dammit. We loaded up and drove home, slightly sad about the loss but at least it hadn't been theft. I vowed to return the next spring when we'd again be at the same venue, armed with metal detector, to recover them.
Fast forward to July 12. The US Rowing Club Nationals were once again to be held in Camden New Jersey after several years elsewhere. It's a relatively short drive for me, so what the heck, I decided to attend as a rowing jewelry vendor on very short notice. I loaded up, showed up, and viola: I found myself ideally located (LOL) directly adjacent to the only other rowing jewelry vendors on the East Coast. Yikes, I was in angst. I was in anxiety city. And I had 5 days at the regatta to be his neighbor. I also acknowledged that despite my intention to bring the metal detector, I had not. So all I had for company was my anxiety. I'm trembling just remembering my emotional state at the time. I needed help to sooth my soul or I knew 5 days of suffering would surely ensue. So I asked: as usual, I summoned my inner being, the river gods, the birds, the clouds, the spirits of all deceased rowers, my passed on puppies, my passed on grandparents, the very essence of the earth. I asked for help loving my neighbor despite his being my biggest competitor. I asked to see him differently through rose colored glasses rather than dark threatening clouds. I asked for ease and joy during the event. I listened to happy joyful music. I thanked everyone for their help. I awoke the second day of the regatta feeling slightly better. 9am, my (very kind) biggest competition walks into my tent and says "We found this on the ground of our booth. It's not ours, is it perhaps yours?" I'm not kidding!! One of the earrings, just the hatchet oar and ruby body, in the palm of his hand. I naturally started sobbing and promptly hugged him. My most feared neighbor, suddenly lovable. Suddenly kind and generous, had somehow produced an earring missing from a month before, under layers of grass, dirt, sand, earth, and the heavy weight of trucks brought in to repair the damage to the turf. A needle in a haystack. A miracle beyond any I could have imagined...holy holy my goodness. I sat for approximately another hour, texting my loved ones of the miraculous find, sending pictures of the recovered oh so beautiful earring. Reveling in the mystery of life. until he walked back into my tent announcing that Christmas had come and produced the missing mate. This is a true story. 2 needles so easily found in a haystack made of time, mud and earth, recovered blessedly so I could love my neighbor.
Just ask for help...it's there for us all <3