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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter


Those who know me know that one of my great pleasures in life is to go hunting and gathering in the thrift shop. There are several fine Goodwill shops nearby, and one of the first things I did when we could go out again, is resume visiting them. Here's a previously unpublished haibun from 2018 that captures how important that meditative hunt is to me. (I'm working on putting together a collection of the haibun I wrote and posted during the Covid months with older ones that "fit". )

A Thrifty Tradition

Thrift or resale shops have been a part of my life since my children were young. My daughter never lets me forget that I put her in a hated plaid jumpsuit with a lace collar in kindergarten. And once in those long ago days when I needed a new winter overcoat, I found a great men’s camel-hair, cut it down to size, then put it back together using the old Singer sewing machine I inherited from my mother.

blowing the dust off the old doll’s face— grandmother’s attic

Fast-forward to trips to Texas to see my mother and sister after both have moved there. Always, we go to the area thrift shops. I can still see in my mind’s eye the little dark cap of my mother’s hair as she wanders through bric-a-brac while my sister and I check out the clothes. This fall when I go to Texas to visit my sister again, we will spend several days visiting resale shops, often holding things up to one another across the aisles calling, “Mother would have liked this one!”

gone in the estate sale the two family paintings I didn’t recognize

And now my daughter has converted to occasional hunting and gathering in the local thrift store, and my granddaughter, at college, loves nothing more than to go “thrifting” with Grandma. She looks for vintage finds, loves creating her own distinctive style. She’s delighted to learn that there’s a Goodwill in her college town. I know one thing we’ll do when I visit her at school, or when she comes home.

years since I lost my old balloon-tire bike with green fenders

Thrift shops have become so much a part of my life that I frequently dream about them, one in particular that I have looked forward to visiting more than a few nights. It’s upstairs in an old house, has several rooms lit by stained glass chandeliers. One room has shelves and racks with clothes, another housewares and bric-a-brac. I keep hoping that one of these nights I’ll meet my mother there. (c) 2021 Penny Harter

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