Barbara was an excellent pen and ink artist. In addition to photography, I painted in pastel, watercolor, oil and acrylic. We were both interested in sharing a little time at the fair.
I followed the signs to a sprawling one story building. I parked, and we entered into the aroma of incense and the almost overwhelming sight of walls hung with large psychedelic posters. It reminded me of my time in the San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The counters on numerous open booths displayed a variety of handmade jewelry and paintings.
For me, it was like returning to the late 60’s and early 70’s. Many visitors and all of the sellers at the booths were dressed care-free in tie-dye shirts, miniskirts, halter tops, and patched jeans. Some like me wore shoulder-length hair. Yes, I was then and continue to remain an unrepentant long-hair hippie.
At the first booth, sat a natural looking young barefoot woman with a colorful headband over her long straight dark hair. A small Peace Sign Pendant with a leather necklace hung around her slim neck. She was reading a well-worn paperback book. “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck as I recall, through her granny eyeglasses.
I noticed a delicate ring isolated on a little pedestal next to her. I was intrigued by the ring and the small artistically hand painted sign which read, “This ring free to show customers.”
It was clear to me that the ring resonated with Barbara. I said that I believed the ring was free since we were customers of the show and the ring was free to show customers. She said, “Oh no that can’t be true, you just don’t get something for free especially without a catch of some sort.” She then walked away saying that she wanted to look at the other booths.
Catching up with Barbara, I nonetheless insisted that I believed that the ring was free. She asked how can that be true? Many visitors had already attended the Santa Barbara Arts & Jewelry Fair as it had been going on for several days. Someone would have asked if it was free and taken if it truly was free. I told her that they probably were reacting the same as she thinking it can’t possibly be free. She said that I misinterpreted the sign which meant that the ring was free to show those people who were at the Santa Barbara Arts & Jewelry Fair. I replied that if everything was free to show everyone why doesn’t each item have a sign?
Nevertheless, she said that she was going to walk around and look at the other booths. I joined her for a while and then found myself standing again near the booth with the ring. I noticed several individuals and couples walking up to the booth, looking at it and a few people even holding the ring. They all looked at the ring, the sign and the woman who continued to read without looking up.
When Barbara found me at the booth, I said this is the time now for you to have your ring. She was still adamant that this wasn’t the case, and she was ready to leave having viewed all of the booths and wanted to get on with our coast drive. I agreed that I wanted to continue our drive, and yet, I believed my intuition, and I wanted her to have the ring.
So, pulling her along gently with me I asked the woman if it was true that the ring was free for Barbara since she was a customer of the show and may she please have it? The woman didn’t say anything right away and still reading the book she gradually created a wonderful crooked smile and then looked up with sparkling eyes and said the ring had been on display the entire few days of the fair. And although numerous people had looked at the ring and looked at the sign and even looked at her, not a single person had asked if it was true that the ring was free.
The woman said that she believed that the ring would go to the person it was meant to be with as it was a very spiritual ring that was already pretty well worn having belonged to a Native American woman whom she had heard twice fought in battles.
Without any further ceremony, she gently took the ring and handed it to Barbara, saying that she wished her well and that it should bring her good luck. Barbara wore that ring for almost eleven years until one day it had fallen off when the band had finally worn away.