Yesterday we decided to inaugerate my new Canon SX120 IS (it remains, as of yet, unnamed) with a country drive up to Ithaca, NY. I’ve always loved driving in the middle of nowhere, as well as exploring the shops in Ithaca Commons. Ithaca, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the town, is a large college town between Cornell University and Ithaca College. It is positively humming with life, a collage of colorful people and places, reminiscent of the old towns that had one or two streets devoted entirely to restaraunts and shopping.
The drive up was gorgeous – the robin egg blue skies filled with pulled-cotton clouds and a cool breeze that made the trees and fields dance. I loved soaking up the quiet atmosphere during the drive, listening as my grandparents pointed out certain houses or locations, regailing my little sister and I of the people who lived there, and what once stood in its spot.
The outside was charming, but the inside was utterly fantastic. It was like stepping into and entirely different world!
Above the window was a little story about a bird taking grains of sand from the beaches and seashores. It was a little hard to see around the fan, but it was a delight to read. Please note the peach basket lampshade, as well as the stained glass above the entrance. I love these unexpected details!
After enjoying our lunch, we headed outside to explore the Commons for a little while. Ithaca Commons is about 4 blocks with nearly 100 unique shops. Unfortunately, due to the economy, there are a few empty storefronts. But several new stores are being renovated or built, which is very exciting. The stores themselves are one-of-a-kind. There is an African inspired store called Diaspora, a few shops devoted to fashion and clothing, some jewelers, several art studios (especially glass studios), restaraunts and pubs, boutiques, as well as my favorite, Ten Thousand Villages.
Ten Thousand Villages is a small chain of shops that sell fair-trade crafts and artisan pieces from all over the world. Their goal is to support artisans throughout the world by selling their crafts as a fair-trade retailer. I love browsing through the gorgeous jewelry, home decour, art and textiles. If I had a million dollars, that would be where I would shop to decorate my home. I adore anything handmade. Most of their diverse wares come from Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. A part of the profit of each ware goes directly back to the artisan to help pay for food, clothing, education, health care and housing for those who would otherwise be unemployed. I love the idea of cradling something in my hands that someone on the other side of the globe has worked hard to create, something that I bought that will help them, constructing a circle. I buy something beautifully handmade, and the profits return to the artisan who spent his/her time and talents to create something. On this occassion, I bought a fun bag from India, striped with teal, purple and yellow, as well as a small pouch of worry dolls from Guatemala for a special friend.
Another thing I love about Ithaca is the beauty of the old-style buildings combined with modern art in the form of weather-resistant sculptures. This juxtaposition is made 10x better by the vibrant and diverse cast of people who walk the streets, the musicians who perform in the small pavilions and the friendly shopkeepers and restaraunt owners.
It was a gorgeous day to explore Ithaca – not too warm, a little breezy, very sunny. Then, life being as it is, we pulled out of our curbside parking spot only to find that we had a flat tire. We spent about an hour and a half to two hours in a car dealership as they searched for a tire to match my grandparent’s Chevy Malibu. At least we had a bunch of pictures to flip through!!!!