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Cheryl Hughes: My Career As a Woman

Discovery: My friend, John, came out with his metal detector in hand today.  It’s his latest hobby—finding hidden things.  I directed him to a couple of promising spots on my farm and told him to have at it.  He returned with a small bag of bottle caps, pieces of broken implements, and rusted nails—stuff that I won’t have to worry about becoming lodged in my flip flop on my next trek across the farm—but no treasure.

After he left, I thought about the desire to treasure hunt, and I mean that in a broad sense.  I like to watch mysteries on TV because I want to unearth the truth; I like yard sales because I’m hoping to discover a treasure I didn’t even know I was looking for; and I like finding things that were lost while cleaning the house.

My granddaughter, Sabria, recognizes the exhilaration of the hunt.  She tries the locks on the kitchen cabinets on a daily basis, crawls under any recliner with a raised foot rest, and makes a bee line for all open doors.  My daughter, Natalie, assumed that when Sabria received all the shiny new presents for Christmas, she would settle down in one place and not roam from room to room looking for something to get into.  I knew better.  I can spot a fellow treasure hunter a mile away; besides, Sabria’s life path number is a five—the number for adventure (every person’s birth date—month, day, year—reduces to a single digit, their life path number).  When I presented this information to Garey, he disagreed.  “It’s not that, it’s that she’s watched one too many episodes of Dora the Explorer,” he argued, with conviction.

There’s a place in the Bible, which I can’t seem to locate—the verse, not the Bible—that states it is to God’s credit that He hides things and to man’s credit that he seeks out the hidden things (Cheryl’s paraphrased version).  Because I have a firm grasp on this concept, I knew exactly what to do when Sabria abandoned the shiny new toys and headed for the kitchen.  I hid the Dora phone in amongst the pie pans she pulls out of the cabinet by the sink.  I found her Blue Bell ice cream bucket and filled it with her new blocks then put the lid on loosely so she could pry it off to see what was inside.  I took the long skinny bottle brush and dropped it down into the empty plastic vinegar jug she loves.  And I took a small wire trash can and filled it with her sock monkey, Dora doll and V-Tech bunny.  She was entertained for a good two hours.

I still enjoy a surprise at the end of a hunt.  When I was three years old, my favorite toy was a Chocks vitamin bottle.  (For those of you who are too young to know what that is, it’s a small glass bottle with a stopper cap.  This was pre-Flintstones vitamin days.)  I still remember playing out by the clay bank behind my grandmother’s house, where I would mix red clay and water in that bottle then shake it up to make terra-cotta colored water.  Recently, one of my friends dropped by a box of old bottles to use in my bottle-slumping project.  I was having a field day going through old Clorox and shoe polish and Tropicana bottles when I stumbled upon the Holy Grail of all bottle finds—the Chocks vitamin bottle.  It was everything I could do not to rush out in search of red clay.

The French call those brilliant little life-affirming moments, joie de vivre—surprised by life.  I love those moments, because it feels as if everything and everybody is connected in some unknowable way.  I hope you find hidden treasure in 2012.  Happy New Year!


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