My dad and I had walked the woods together a hundred times. Enjoying the breeze, the beautiful tree cover, the sounds of the birds. I loved our walks and our time spent together. We would talk about everything and nothing at all. My dad had this ability to find a treasure from a mile away. He would see a glint in the dirt as the sun shone brightly overhead, would kneel and dig with his bare hands or a stick. He would dig and dig until the dirt would give way and the found item would be in full view. Sometimes it was a piece of an old tin can, or even a beer bottle with pop top lid. Once, he found a ring that was missing the middle stone, but both of the side diamonds still shone brightly as if they were just placed. My father was a treasure hunter extraordinaire. The neighborhood kids often pleaded to be included in our adventures. They knew that time spent with my dad would always produce a story to share with others.
One Saturday in August, we set out early before the heat of the day became oppressive. We located our long pants and bug spray and filled two water bottles each. He packed a small bag with fruit and snacks that also included a small first aid kit and other essential items. His strides were much longer than mine, and I appreciated his frequent attempts to slow himself down and wait for me. I always reminded him we weren’t in a hurry and didn’t have to race. He always smiled at the reminder from his youngest daughter.
That morning we found a few interesting items after we passed the old metal gas can and box spring that he had unearthed a few summers before. I found the fact that people once lived in these dense woods absolutely fascinating. How do people walk away from a house? At what time is a house deemed so beyond repair that leaving it and some of its contents seemed feasible? Who was the man that walked away from the old Model T that now sat as a shell of its past glory? I would make up stories that the man knew a terrarium would be needed in that specific spot one day, and knew that should be the resting place for his once beloved car. That day, a large rock in shape of heart would travel home with us and be placed in my mother’s flower garden.
“Oh my! Would you look at that?” My father exclaimed as he tripped over an unseen object and regained his balance. “Want to make a bet? What do you think it is?” We always shared a giggle when he said this. The night before it had rained and the path was worn away which enabled us to discover something new. Easily, the ground gave way. And from the dirt, my dad pulled a hand carved wood adornment from a piece of very old furniture. A beautiful woman wearing an ornate headdress. He smiled, used his water and bandanna to clean the gorgeous relic and handed the carving to me. “A gift for my girl. Treasure her always. A way to remember your walks with your good, old dad.”
To this day, I hold dear, the hand carved woman wearing a headdress and will take her out and share with my kids, the surprise discovery of an ordinary day.
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