Ten Cents


The other day, my husband accidentally dropped a packet of nails on the ground. I am sure my eyes turned gold from the amount of money I saw scattered on the floor in the shape of those pointy metal pieces. You see, whenever I see a nail on the ground, I immediately think, “Ten Cents!”

This all stems back to my adolescence and my brilliant grandmother who gave me a reason to explore.

I really had a lovely childhood. Our only neighbors were my grandmother on one side and my aunt and uncle on the other. My sister and I were allowed to go wherever our heart’s would take us, as long as we stuck to the paths around the properties. Between the families, we had 500 acres to explore. This left us with lots of time for our imaginations to invent many different adventures.

The problem is, I am not very adventurous. I would immediately climb a tree and read all day long. My father had kindly nailed a piece of wood into the curve of the branches of my favorite tree to make a rustic bench. So, I would sit there in my tree and waste the day away. Not much has changed since then.

Sometimes, I would take a fruit roll up into that tree and tear it into pieces no larger than an ant. I would ration those pieces all day, and suck on them bit by bit.

One rare day, I ventured from my perch in the tree. I went to visit my grandmother.

I arrived dusty and twitchy with boredom. My grandmother quickly set me up with a task. She told me that she really needed my help. She nonchalantly commented, “There are too many nails on this property. Why don’t you look around and see how many nails you can find? I will pay you ten cents for every nail that you bring me.”

I remember being thrilled with this quest being given to me. Not only would I be helping my grandmother out, but I I would be earning money in the process. Really easy money.

I set off exploring with the pail she had given me. I quickly found many rusty nails. I wandered the property and found a feather. Hmmm… This could be interesting. I searched for more nails and found some pinecones. I wonder what I could do with these? Lovely multicolored rocks just hinting of gems inside were quickly scooped up. Soon I saw rabbits scurrying by me. A crow watched me overhead, cawing loudly. I never knew there were so many lizards making a home here.

I stayed outside looking for nails for two hours. I think my final haul was 21 nails. They were all rusty and I was so excited to hand them over to my grandma. She paid me with her loose change and I was giddy with delight. I went home with my pail full of treasures.

This would become a trip that would weave itself into a frequent pattern for my grandmother and me. As time went by, the nails were still always plentiful. And there were always undiscovered treasures to be had. But I did notice as I grew older that the once rusty nails I would find would sometimes be shiny and new. I would quickly add them to my pile, with naught a thought of where they came from.

As an adult, looking back, I have some thoughts on the rusty and new nails. Were they placed there by my grandmother so I would have a reason to explore? Did she toss the nails I had found from my explorations back onto her property as I made my way back home? I do not know the answer to that. My grandmother has recently passed away and so I will never know.

However, I do know I earned much more than loose change on my hunt for those nails. I earned such a rich childhood filled with so many sights and sounds I surely would have missed from my perch in the tree. My grandmother brought me back down to the ground. She taught me there is so much you can discover when you think you are searching for something else. Sometimes the treasure you are seeking is not the treasure you end up finding. Sometimes it is much much more. Sometimes it is a grand adventure hidden in the form of a rusty nail.

18 thoughts on “Ten Cents

  1. GREAT story, Jenni! You definitely have a way with words. 🙂 My grandmother and her twin sister just turned 103 and will be on The Today Show tomorrow. So excited! She means a lot to me and it sounds like you made some wonderful memories with your grandmother too.

    • Wow! 103! That is so wonderful for both you and her. And a twin sister to boot. Doubly blessed! I will watch The Today Show tomorrow for her name. How exciting!

      Thank you for reading and the very kind words. I very much appreciate it.


  2. Oh, I miss her so much it hurts. She was one heck of a grandma – full of life, fun, stories, and thrills. Always up for anything. That’s a great memory. She would’ve loved that you enjoy that memory of her so much. I was just thinking (today, in fact) that out of everyone I know, she would’ve enjoyed your blog the very most! She would have been absolutely delighted with your fashion and funny stories. xoxoxo

  3. Such a big lump in my throat, I can’t swallow, and so many tears, I had trouble seeing your words. Thank you for sharing such precious memories of you, your childhood, and grandma. Your childhood sounds magical!

  4. Wow! What a wonderful story, Jenni. I think your grandmother was a very wise woman. And the granddaughter-acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!

  5. I love how you are able to write about your memories so beautifully…I also love so many things about this story, the bench your dad made you in the tree, the fruit roll up lasting all day (I told you you have amazing willpower), your Grandmother’s cleverness in getting you to see the world around you…thank you for sharing this sweet story.

    • Thank you Amy! I never thought of it as willpower before. I just thought of it as necessity. I love your way of looking at it! The bench is still in that tree. I would not trust it to hold my weight now. My grandmother was wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

  6. Thank you for writing this wonderful story from your childhood! Your grandmother was awesome… I am sure she put those nails there. 😉 Both of my grandmothers, when they were alive, were not the sort to do such things for their grandchildren. I always love reading about others who do. 🙂

    • Thank you! She was amazing. I miss her very much. I am sad that you do not have such memories, but happy you enjoyed mine.

      Thank you for taking the time and reading that story. It is dear to my heart.

      Have a wonderful day!


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