Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Ballad of the Lost and Found

Who knows the pleasure of the surprise of finding something you thought was lost forever, perhaps nothing special, just something that represents a time and a place, and the person you were when you lost it? When my daughter was about eight years old, and we had just moved to a small hobby farm in northeast South Dakota, she and my older son became very interested in treasures and making maps. My daughter made a treasure, some objects in an old black plastic lunch box. I don't remember what she put inside--some yarn, a plastic figurine, a bottle she had found. It disappeared. Years later, I found it next to a log in the shelterbelt, and all the treasure was intact, including a map she had drawn showing some marks for the location of the treasure (yes, I know, the map was inside the treasure). I got a thrill when I opened it, a lost treasure, a time capsule. She was thirteen, and when I showed it to her, she was ashamed, indicated that this silliness was something she would rather have forgotten. I gave her the treasure, and she threw it away. I wish I had kept it. I would like to have kept the map at least, and maybe a photo of the treasure in its chest. She would like to have it some day, I suspect, like Scout's cigar-box treasures.

I'm a keeper, much to the wife's chagrin. But this past weekend we hunted up an old treasure of her own. She was sure a cabinet matching the one we use for a bed table was still in her parents' old abandoned house. After a search, I found it in the basement, much the worse for wear; the moisture and racoons had damaged it, but not beyond repair. The drawers were stuck, and I could tell there were items inside. I got it home, and one drawer wouldn't give up its treasure, but finally, I banged it open and found, among other things, an old Korean shoe, one of the ones her aunt had bought for her and her sisters. Here's a picture of it. Those girls wore those shoes, but they appear to be more intended for placing on a shelf and admiring their hand-painted flowers.

What once-lost treasures have you found?

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