We struck gold twice last weekend! Justin and I went panning through tables of delight at both the Oronoco Gold Rush and the Gold Rush Antique and Flea Market in Rochester. Nothing screams summer fun quite like a treasure hunt.
Being newbies, we didn't know what to expect when we parked the car along Fifth Street Northeast and hiked our way into Oronoco. Will it be a traditional flea market? What will the prices be like? How early should we arrive? And my ever-present quandary: What kind of gluten-free snacks will be available?
As we made our way toward the excitement, the astounding size of the event became immediately evident. There was no way we could see everything in one day. Fully caffeinated with the sun beaming down and no time to waste, we got down to business. There was booth after booth of beautiful, historic furniture, dishware, glassware, and tools.
Some vendors took a highly-organized approach and labeled every item with its history and value. Others preferred to let customers name their own price and dig through overflowing boxes of potentially hidden gems. After about six hours of amusement, it was time to head home and rehydrate.
Justin's Volkswagen Passat proved a helpful vehicle to accompany us for the day. I am always astounded at how much we can fit into that car. We were able to load up a double-sided antique library desk as well as an old student desk and a variety of other odds and ends. The layout of our shared office space is now coming right along.
The following day in Rochester, we uncovered more fun at the Antique and Flea Market. Taking a different approach than the day prior, we divided up right off the bat. The goal: see how much ground we could cover in an hour. It was a lofty goal; we were unsuccessful in the hour limit. But we did make it home with plenty of time for sermon preparation before I needed to head over to Austin to fill in for a friend.
Before leaving, we loaded the Passat with a 100-year-old vanity that will serve as the new home for our mail, wedding china, coffee supplies and backlogged newspapers and magazines. We loved learning about its previous owner, a 94-year-old woman in Zumbrota.
The namesake of these local events is the California Gold Rush that lasted from 1848-1855. The California state motto is "Eureka," which is Greek for "I have found it." The exclamation hearkens back to the excitement felt by the early gold-seekers. What a thrill it must've been to find that which they'd traveled across nearly impossible terrain to uncover.
My sentiments post-Gold Rush were similar. Eureka! But it wasn't any object that made my heart sing. It wasn't the furniture or antique stationary or tools. It was the sense of God's nearness in all of it — in the summer sun, in the people we encountered, in the way the whole experience provided a time machine of sorts — granting us a window into generations past.
Something within me has changed in recent years. No longer renting a fully furnished home, I'm slowly warming to the idea of having real furniture and planting real roots. Eureka! In southeastern Minnesota, we have found it. Home.
As we sat on the couch debriefing the weekend, I proclaimed, "We definitely need to get Gold Rush weekend on the calendar for next year. I want to come back." Justin smiled and nodded in full agreement, "That sounds like a great idea."
The search for gold continues, as does the hope of nurturing a community where everyone feels a sense of "Eureka! I'm home!"