Spending Too Much—On Purpose

I have a hand-thrown salad bowl that never fails to draw compliments when I use it at dinner parties. It’s a gorgeous shade of greenish-blue that sets off the colors of a salad beautifully. It isn’t “perfect” by industry standards. There are variations in the glaze, and the shape is perhaps not quite round. That makes it perfect to me. I love it for those exact characteristics because they mean it’s handmade. I love it because I know its creator and was surprised to learn that pottery was one of his talents.

I also know the creator of a hand-knit wool afghan that graces my bedroom and warms me on cold nights. Made in the style of an Irish fisherman sweater with honeycomb, diamond, and cable patterns, I marvel every time I pull it around my shoulders or over my legs at the patience and skill it took to make it.

At this time of year I often think fondly on an autumn weekend I spent with my family in Amish country. We walked to the nearby dairy farm to show the girls where milk comes from. They were far more interested in the new barn kittens than they were the cows. I enjoyed the conversations we had while helping to prepare meals. I was dumbfounded by the pitch-black night.

I remember a laughter-filled dinner for eight lovingly prepared by a good friend from the freshest possible ingredients all from scratch all vegetarian. I don’t remember what was so funny, but I do remember the laughter.

All these goods and services have one thing in common: I overpaid for every single one. That’s right overpaid, and I loved doing it. I bought them all at fundraising auctions where getting a bargain wasn’t the point. I bought them all at dinner events surrounded by friends and strangers who became friends – amidst laughter and friendly competition and encouragement to spend. Or even overspend.

Because the point was not to get a bargain. The point was to support the causes we care about.

Jamestown Audubon connects people to nature and promotes environmentally responsible practices through education at its center and throughout the community. Audubon owns and operates two sanctuaries which are open to the public 365 days a year for hiking and nature appreciation. Its center offers educational, hands-on exhibits with something for all ages, as well as meeting spaces and a nature store. The programming ranges from classroom and field trip opportunities that reach more than 16,000 school children a year to public programs on many topics to festivals and events that offer a wide range of activities while teaching about important environmental issues.

If this is a cause you care about, I encourage you to get involved in Jamestown Audubon’s Falling for Nature Dinner and Auction. Perhaps you have an item or service to contribute. Perhaps you would enjoy joining us for a delicious dinner prepared from locally produced ingredients followed by the lively fun of a live auction.

As of this writing, the menu is still in the works. Contributed items to date include original artwork, the biography “Willie Horton: The People’s Champion” – signed by Willie Horton himself, a night’s stay at the Edwards Waterhouse Inn in Fredonia, an evening of harp music (a sampling of which you will hear during dinner), and much more. Last year, there were a couple of paintings by none other than Lincoln, our resident (and now famously artistic) Box Turtle. Rumor has it, he may be contributing again this year.

Jamestown Audubon’s Falling for Nature Dinner and Auction will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Conewango Club in Warren, Pa. Reservations are required and seating is limited. You can see scenes from the 2012 auction, this year’s menu so far, and a sampling of contributed items at the auction website jasauction.weebly.com/ where you can also contribute an item and/or buy tickets.

Jamestown Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren.Learn more about the center by calling 569-2345 or visiting jamestownaudubon.org.

Jennifer Schlick is the program director at Audubon.