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Friday, December 18, 2009

Treasure Time!

A treasure has been discovered! While putting in fenceposts behind the spruce trees for the garden fence, Jeff noticed glass near the top of one of the post holes. He didn't have time to unearth the find and still beat his record of eleven posts in one day. It was up to me.  It was time to put my archaeological training to use.
I first assembled all the necessary tools.  A sharp trowel is the most important tool for an archaeologist, then, lacking the correct dentil picks for the minute dirt removal, I retrieved a  phillips-head screwdriver. The hole was surrounded by freshly dug dirt that first had to be shoveled aside.  (This makes me wonder, was the hole there all along, waiting for the dirt to be removed? How many other holes are already in the yard that we can't see because they are still full of dirt? Hmmm, a mystery.)

Once the dirt was removed from the rim of the hole, it was time for meticulouse excavation.  I layed my coat on the ground to give me a dry place to work, then began to delicately probe the earth with my sharp trowel.  Nothing happened.  The ground was frozen solid.  Even with all my effort the trowel barely dented the ground. I next tried the screwdriver. Nothing. It was time for another method.
I noticed that nearby rested a large heavy metal hammer. That should do it.  At this point I left the archaeologist behind and pulled forth the five-year-old that lurks in us all. All care was gone as I rested the screwdriver against the frozen ground and started hammering.  I would hammer an inch at a time then come at the dirt from another angle until it was pulverized enough to remove a bit.

Slowly glass turned into bottle then bottle
gradually emerged from the ground.  
Disappointment came when I discovered that there was a plastic screw-cap topping the bottle rather than a cork. It was identical to several glass bottles in my childhood medicine cabinet usually full of dark purple cough syrup with a hand-typed lable affixed to the front.

While this prescription bottle was not going to get us featured on Antiques Roadshow it was still a treasure. The treasure was brought forth not from the earth, but from my mind as I remembered my mother pouring the thick syrup into a spoon then urging it into my mouth.  I would next swallow with a mixture of reactions.  The syrup, while sweet was not tasty but no pill or lozenge can replace that burning pleasure as the thick gooy mixture slowly coated my raw, sore throat.  As I grew older, I would pour my own syrup, trying in vain not to shake the spoon, spilling sticky syrup onto the counter. 

I washed the unearthed bottle and it now sits beside the washroom sink until my memories are finished and I'm ready to throw the bottle out.  Or perhaps I'll save it awhile longer so that my grandchildren can see how great things were in the "good ol' days."

22 fenceposts were were placed that day but only after breaking one hand-held posthole digger.  As I said, the ground was hard and the tractor-powered digger could only get the holes started.

The holes were not in the yard where the ground was relatively free of debris.  No, these were through a wooded area full of roots that had to be removed by hand before the large walnut posts could be inserted. Luckily we had another posthole digger in the family. Doesn't every one have two of these?

The holes were finally finished and the posts were placed. 
I had thought that the massive posts surrounding my garden would inhibit the deer from entering but no, each morning I see fresh sign that deer ventured beyond the perimeter to check out what tasty morsels could be found.
Last night we were asked what we planned on keeping "in" knowing that it is very hard to keep an animal, "out" of a garden.



There are still treasures to be found.  In the winter, garden treasures are more subtile than the in the verdant summer months.  Treasures are more likely to be clothed in grays or brown than in the brighter hues. 
While out yesterday morning to see how the fence was coming along I passed through the fern garden on the way back to the house. 

It was a pleasure to see the beaded brown spikes of the sensitive fern standing erect above the roots of the dormant plants.



 Technically these are called fertile leaves though they look more like
beaded feathers or arrows stuck point first deep into the hard earth. Spore cases are contained in each of the small hardened beads  These fertile leaflets are signals to me that the garden is still very much alive though much of it lies sleeping just below the soil surface, awaiting lengthening days of spring as the sun warms the soil surrounding the garden roots.


Treasures may be found wherever we take the time to look but time must be the greatest treasure of all.  It seems to me to be a treasure worth borrowing or stealing, from wherever we can find it.  Perhaps an hour stolen in the morning from sleep, or borrowed from a chore that can be put off until later.  Maybe we can gather it up in tiny bits placed in a jar to be combined later into a block of time to be used for whatever we love, whether it is writing, painting, playing golf, or just sitting still to listen to our life. 
Well, this time is gone.  It is "time" to return what was borrowed.  "Time" to get ready for returning family, scrub the shower, change the sheets, sweep up the always present lady beetle carcasses and empty the refridgerator to make way for fresh food.
Today there is no more time, but we'll see what I can do about tomorrow!

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