My husband, daughter, and I rode north on our motorcycles for the annual Blessing of the Bikes. Destination: Baldwin, Michigan. The trip takes about two hours and is less than 90 miles if you don’t make any stops along the way. But of course, we did. Side trips included breakfast at McDonalds and perusing vendor booths along the way.
The ride’s function is to raise money for various charities. Approximately 10,000 bikes turned out with prizes for the oldest and youngest rider, one who came the most distance, etc. Numerous booths included clothing items with “Blessing of the Bikes – 2013” on them. The smell of gasoline fumes, delectable BBQs, fried pickles, hotdogs and sloppy joes hung in the heavy air. Cold water bottles were abundant and sold well due to the high heat index.
While walking through vendor booths in Baldwin, we stumbled upon a unique jewelry vendor. My daughter and I find it difficult to pass by most types of jewelry, so we ventured near to gaze upon the individual glass cases. The heavily-tattooed owner was the friendly sort. Naturally, he was interested in promoting his goods in a knowledgeable, positive way. He showed us moonstone rings and other sparkly gems. My daughter, Amanda, tried on a large turquoise ring, but decided against it.
“What about this ring?” he asked us.
The intricate ring the vendor showed us was beautifully carved, silver and boasted two tiny clasped hands. The surprising part came when he parted the two hands revealing a tiny heart hidden inside the ring. No one would suspect such a treasure. My husband was smitten (or bitten) as he suggested one for my wedding ring finger which was currently swollen due to a torn ligament. Sadly, earlier this year, my wedding ring had to be cut due to major swelling and a chance of cutting off circulation in my finger.
The vendor then explained the love tale of the Claddagh ring. Legend has it that a young man fell in love with a lady of higher social-economic ranking. He created a ring for her, gave her the ring, and she willingly wore it. No one else knew, but inside the ring was hidden a heart. Symbolically, he not only gave her the friendship ring, but his heart as well.
The vendor claimed the ring should be accepted by a maiden only from a man who promised to be faithful and true to his woman. I assured him that Steve totally qualified for those rules and that we’d been married now for 37 (almost 38) years.
“Wow – that’s great. Then he qualifies!” replied the vendor with a smile.
The vendor made it his mission as he hunted for a ring large enough to accommodate my swollen knuckle and found one. Steve paid for the ring. He then proceeded to get down on his knees and present the ring to me as he slid it on my left ring finger. Amanda quickly snapped a photo. We kissed. Those within hearing range exclaimed, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.” What a treasured moment!
Legend of the Claddagh Ring – The Claddagh ring (Irish: fáinne Chladaigh) is a traditional Irish ring given which represents love, loyalty and friendship (hands represent friendship, heart represents love, crown represents loyalty). The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, located just outside the old city walls of Galway, now part of Galway City. The ring as we know it was first produced in the 17th century.