Tucked away in a residential area of Victoria Drive is a tiny shop of wonders called “The Found and the Freed”. (You can check out their website here.) I stumbled across this special place on a Friday afternoon, as I made the most of some welcome warm weather. We had a break in the long spell of blustery days heralding the arrival of a rain-soaked Springtime in Vancouver, so I took advantage of a rare umbrella-free stroll and opted to get outside. It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine and the gradual lengthening of days can do to lift your spirits. Beauty is budding on every corner, and each step was accompanied by bursts of unfolding colour wrapped in new spring greenery.
I am sorry to say that I have passed this little gem of a shop, which I learned has been at this location for the past two years, almost daily without noticing it. Hustling to and from work, I spent my commute thinking about my clients, my co-workers, my family and what to have for dinner, how tired I am and when I might find time for this and that. And then it caught my eye, the bright coral facade, the cheerful pots of purple tulips and blue hydrangea, an inviting place to sit. The welcome glimpse of delightful curiosities in the window beckoned me to take a closer look. Inside, I found antique globes and bus rolls hung on the wall listing familiar Vancouver destinations. I saw numbered nails pulled from old railway ties. My favourite find was a set of antique wooden darts.
There were delightful antique chairs and cabinets. I enjoyed seeing old school lockers for sale, begging to be filled with someone’s day-to-day paraphernalia… imagine jackets, yoga mats, ski gear, notebooks, a change of shoes, a brown-bag lunch, all stuffed inside with a treasured poster or two hung inside the door. You remember… those personal items and mementos that were the record of an active life daily measured out in teaspoonfuls and quarter-cups of the ordinary and practical, but also reminders of how precious and meaningful the routines of life, that we must guard against taking them too much for granted. How soon the hum-drum of today becomes the nostalgic reverie of days-gone-by.
This shop offers a comforting and friendly reminder that amongst the antiquities of our past, that the present is still a good place to be, with a warm and fuzzy welcome from its canine customers. This is a dog-friendly store, and there was an adorable array of all shapes and sizes, offering shoppers a well-behaved greeting that gave the atmosphere of the shop a certain sweetness and down-home coziness that I found pleasant and relaxing. It was a nice reminder that there are many good and well-trained dog owners in our fair city.
Amongst the objects of yesteryear, I found quirky electronic gadgets and unique lighting that whispered about the future that is ours to build. To bring me back to the here and now there was an assortment of locally made specialties, hand-crafted by Vancouver’s own artisans. The wonderful thing of being surprised by beauty hovering right under your nose, is that once you look up and become aware of your surroundings, you awaken from your own short-sightedness and pay attention to the bigger picture. You begin to see the beautiful life that is being created and offered up, if you will only open yourself up and take a moment to really see.
There were lovely and locally crafted candles and appealing jars of gourmet pasta sauces, but what I found myself opting to purchase were two jars of local honey infused with unique flavours. I was delighted to see that this honey is a Vancouver-based product of a local company, Mellifera Bees. To quote the company’s founder, beekeeper Melissa Cartwright:
“Each jar contains unprocessed honey harvested from ethically managed hives in backyards similar to yours, in neighbourhoods not so far from where you live, across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland… Mellifera honeys pair beautifully with wine, artisan cheeses and crusty French bread. Enjoy it drizzled over homemade ice cream, stirred into hot beverages, added to dressings or alone on a spoon.” (For more information, visit the company’s website at Melliferabees.com)
As I paid for my honey at the funky little till and chatted with a lovely woman who is one of the owners of the shop, I couldn’t resist treating myself to another locally-made goodie on display at the counter. A jar of creamy soft hand-made caramels, reminiscent of the one’s my mother made from the cream readily available on our little farm where I grew up. I bought one and later wished I had a box of them because it was so delicious. I highly recommend these as a gift or simply to treat yourself. Go here to visit the website of The Candid Confectioner to learn about this local artisan and her yummy caramels.
I headed home anticipating a cup of chai tea sweetened with cardamom-infused Mellifera honey, savouring the pleasure of memories of days when I had a school locker and a typewriter, the childhood taste of creamy caramel on my tongue, the scent of budding flowers. The whole world seemed a little less grey and damp than a half-hour before. Life seemed to have taken on a bit of a rose-tinted hue, and I will endeavour to watch the world through these lenses for as long as I can.