Inside the store I saw the woman who judged the pie contest and found out her husband, Frank Wright, owns the store. He hand carves each piece in his workshop at the back of the store. My eyes scanned the shop jumping from spoon to spoon. Each was a unique work of art with a story of its own.
A good wooden spoon is hard to find, there's just nothing like it. The way the handle feels in your hand, the weight and balance between the handle and bowl, the cool, smooth feel of the wood against your skin, the shape and depth of the bowl, the color and patterns in the wood. Each feature is unique yet gives purpose, much like people. Never have I seen so many unique and beautiful spoons. Even the store itself was full of character. Oh, if only these spoons could speak.
Look at the wavy handles above and the little dog spoon below.
Frank was kind enough to explain the story behind several of his designs and their names. In the second photo of this post you may have noticed the rooster-shaped stirrers hanging on the wall. He came up with this concept when a friend asked for a utensil to stir a roux. A roux, pronounced as the "roo" in rooster, is a mixture of fat and flour stirred and cooked together and used to thicken sauces. Get it? Rooster...roux stirrer. So creative! It's probably a good thing my camera battery was dying or I would have taken a picture of everything. I did spend quite a while picking out what to buy.
While I picked up spoon after spoon trying to decide on just a few, I learned that Frank also carves chopsticks. During the rhubarb festival we played a game using wooden chopsticks to transfer chopped rhubarb between pie plates. Who would have guessed that the chopsticks I used in the game were the very ones he had carved? I didn't get a pair this time, but you can be sure I will be back to his store.
I think I could have spent all day in there.
Frank is a talented yet humble artist. It wasn't until after I left the store that I found out he is also the town expert on rhubarb. Little did I know that he and his wife, Peggy, (the Rhubarb Sister who judged the pie contest) are known as the "rhubarb couple". Frank has over 100 rhubarb plants along with a wealth of knowledge. The rhubarb stalks above were sitting in the store during the festival. I have a feeling he has a lot of other wisdom on life to share. He seemed to be the type of person who learns from every life experience and willingly shares it with others. A treasure of rich character, much like a good wooden spoon.
Frank's character rubs off on the spoons, the store and his business practices. This summer many stores in Lanesboro are participating in "Sunday After Hours". This business initiative features deals and discounts to foster growth and community of the downtown experience. Instead of discounts Frank has decided on "Good Deals for Good Deeds" He is offering a free pair of handmade chopsticks or a homegrown rhubarb plant in exchange for a pledge to do a good deed. Customers write down their good deed and post it to the workshop window above the chopstick display.
I was also surprised when it came time to buy our spoons. Our purchases would have taken the remainder of our cash leaving us unable to do much else in town. Without hesitation Frank told us to just mail him a check when we got home. It's rare these days to find such trust and goodwill. Thankfully, he hasn't had much of a problem with receiving checks as thieves aren't usually the type looking for a good wooden spoon.
Here are some pictures of the spoons I finally decided on. The larger one is made of walnut and the smaller of maple.
The colors and patterns in the smaller spoon also caught my attention.
Finding this store completely made my day, I was excited beyond words. If you're anywhere near Lanesboro, MN be sure to look up Frank Wright and stop in for some spoons. Exquisite work, rich character and playful creativity, this is a spot you don't want to miss. Today's Food for Thought comes from a poster Frank had up in his store.
Food for Thought: "Love is the greatest virtue of the heart. Sincerity is the greatest virtue of the mind. Determination is the greatest virtue of the will. Courage is the greatest virtue of the spirit." - Frank Lloyd Wright