Last month's Arts Alive! festivity gave new meaning to the word, "alive," when my canopy scooted across the street as I attempted to sell my book, Seasons of the Soul, at the Shadow Lake Town Center's outside artist event in Papillion, Neb.
As a vendor, I did not think about bringing weights, especially since the night before my husband and I belatedly celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary - a romantic night at an Omaha restaurant and took in a movie.
So we were amazed at facing cooler weather and fierce winds as we set up my brand-new canopy the next day, which I purchased the week before to meet vendor specifications, requiring only "white" canopies. A vendor neighbor helped put up our booth.
I placed the table underneath the canopy. But when I tried to spread the table cloth, wind gusts roiled. It blew my cloth onto the street. Moments later my 3 x 5 index cards flew in several directions. I picked them up, returned to my booth and put them inside a case then plopped down in my chair to await the calming of the seas.
However, instead my canopy swayed. I gulped.
"You better get some weights or it's going to blow." I faced my neighbor, stomach churning. They secured their canopy with sand-filled canisters attached to the bottom legs.
I scrambled to think of how to keep mine intact.
With an unhandy husband, I knew we needed a simple remedy. I suggested he fill empty ice-cream containers, stored above the refrigerator, with water. I continued, "On a top shelf in the garage, are some luggage ties. We could pull those through the canopy's top loops and let the pails hang from them."
I waited for him to return, hoping he would follow instructions.
Art enthusiasts visited booths of paintings, carvings and homemade jewelry. I hid my disappointment through a pinned-on smile. Paul returned about a half-hour later.
"Where's the ropes?" I gasped.
He shrugged. "I couldn't find them so I brought cases of pop."
"Hope it works."
He smiled, believing he found the right answer, and placed the filled buckets and 12-pact soda cases on each side of the protruding metal, normally used to pound stakes into the earth. Paul left.
From my bag, I grabbed a heavier cloth and pulled it over the table. Books displayed. The winds died down. I relaxed.
But within minutes, they once again intensified, blowing a treasured-pottery tray off my table. The tray, used to hold my index cards and which honored my late state-senator father, slammed onto the concrete and shattered into pieces. Heart aching, I picked up the tiny remnants, threw them into the trash can and settled back into my seat.
Then the canopy swayed. I leaned my body against a leg and held onto it but to no avail. Seconds later it sailed toward a vendor across from me. I watched in horror and swallowed the lump in my throat.
But a group of men saw it and stopped it a few feet before it landed into that booth.
They folded up the canopy. "I'm afraid it's damaged. You better not use it," said one of the men as he handed it to me.
I laid it on the sidewalk behind me and called my husband, forcing back tears and sat there in shock. A vendor suggested I move to another location away from the sun. I agreed and she helped me drag my items to a small area between two booths, which provided greater protection from the sun and winds.
Later, I told event volunteers about the incident. Sympathetic they arrived with an unused canopy, put it up for me and secured it with sand-filled, five-gallon tubs to weigh it down. Grateful, I finished the day selling my book.
And, ended the day with a valuable lesson learned. A lesson Boy Scouts are taught in childhood:
Be Prepared. God bless.
Janet Syas Nitsick is the author of the www.Christianstoryteller.com Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Visit her Web site: www.JanetSyasNitsick.com or follow Janet Nitsick on Facebook for more details.