This week’s special adventure has been a visit to the Annual Craft Market which is held in Riga. Christina, a Swiss Christian who lives in Riga and lectures at our Salvation Army Training College from time to time, invited me to go with her.
It was a new experience for me to travel on a bus – a ‘bendy bus’ at that – and it was a bit of a baptism by fire because it was stiflingly hot and absolutely full to over-flowing with people going to the market.
It was a glorious day. The temperatures were in excess of 30 degrees (eat your heart out any of you UK readers!!) and the venue for the market was just outside Riga at an open-air museum. The museum itself warrants a visit because it is a woodland area where various old buildings have been reconstructed to give a flavour of Old Latvia. On Saturday, though, it was full of stalls with hand-crafted goods, often made by the sellers themselves. There were woven rugs for floor and bed, some made from rags; there were carved small wooden toys, and, at the other extreme huge carved wooden tables and benches. There were stone carvings, amber jewellery, knitted mittens, pots of honey, and cheeses. There were pictures made from clay, and dancing and music and great vats of food, and donkey rides too. It seemed as if, after long months of hibernation during the cold, dark winter months, there was just an explosion of colour and life and all the crafts that had been made during those months were brought out to the light of day. It was, of course, beautiful.
And so to the picture. There were lots of intricately woven fine table cloths and runners. The one in the picture caught our eye, neatly folded under a number of other lovely pieces. We stopped to admire it, not intending to buy it, and to my dismay the stall holder started to extricate it from her neatly arranged display and open it up for us to see it properly. Christina speaks Latvian, so I asked her to tell the lady not to go to so much trouble because we were not intending to buy the cloth. The lady replied to this effect, ‘It doesn’t matter that you are not going to buy it, I just want you to have the joy of admiring something that is beautiful’….and so together, with the stall-holder, and the elderly lady who had woven the cloth, we stopped, and admired, and simply enjoyed – beauty.
Hopefully I’ve got it right this week! There are some pictures in the gallery of the Market, if you want to look at them, including a picture of the lady who wove the cloth.
PS I have done some work too! Visits to Liepaja and Bauska have been part of my diet this past week.