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.