By Looking Down I Found Five Things

A couple of afternoons ago I had to return my son-in-law’s truck, which I’d borrowed for a trip up-island. Their place is about a mile and a half away, not too far, so I walked home after the dropoff. The day was a bright, cool, breezy early spring day. When I got to the Mill Pond, I turned off the sidewalk to cut past Brandy Brow and take a shortcut through the back yard of the Town Library. Then in between the Church and the Town Hall I went down Music Street. Part way down Music Street is a seven acre field that I used as a shortcut back when I walked to school as a child. Now that I’m “old”, I still take that shortcut when walking to and from the center of town.

The field was plowed and planted to rye late last fall. It’s still mostly bare earth, with rows of struggling ryelets, stressed and slowed by winter cold and goose-nibbled to nubbins. Another month of advancing spring will see this grass outstrip its losses from hungry beaks. Soon the soil will disappear under a burgeoning sea of exuberant green.

As soon as I stepped on the field it came to me that I had an opportunity to look for arrowheads, or whatever else might have been exposed by plowing, discing, and the freezing and thawing of winter. Finding arrowheads is a skill I almost totally lack. I’ve found exactly one and a half arrowheads in seventy years. Hoping to break my losing streak, my eyes went to ground. But, as the old Yankees said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Within a minute, the eyes noticed a perfect circular shape on the soil. Here was find number one. A long-lost coin had caught my eye. It was a Lincoln cent, dirty and patinated, but not too old to reveal a 1981 date. Who lost that penny? And when?

It could have been me, I suppose, but, probably not.

A few more steps, and then I saw a glint. Find number two. I picked it up and rubbed away the remaining dirt. The shard was small, thin, and very clear. Glass. It wasn’t flat. As small as it was, it still had curvature.

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The glass shard.

“Lamp chimney!”, I exclaimed to myself. The next morning, while looking at these treasures in the first light of day, I balanced the glass shard on edge on a piece of manila paper. The projected light revealed the swirling imperfections of the old hand-made chimney glass.

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Sunlight reveals bubbles and swirls of the lamp chimney glass’s structure

Next, number three find, was a roughly rectangular chunk of white-glazed porcelain.

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It was plain white, with a slight radius and an edge bump.

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Perhaps the bump is where a handle once began. I have no idea what the entire piece might have been, or what it was used for.

Number four find was a body part. That was a surprise. A broken arm from some child’s doll. Maybe from the nineteenth century. The hand end was broken off. The other end had a groove where a string had once tied the limb to a stuffed cloth body. A few strokes of red, to indicate a bow tied from ribbon, persist on on the white base glaze. What child lost their doll in this field, and when? There’s a story there.

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Find number five was a piece of old window glass. I’m not sure how old, but old enough so that the glass itself has a definite green tint, unlike the nearly clear glass of today.

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After I took the above pictures, I took the objects outside and dropped them on some bare earth. And took another photo, which will give you an idea of what these five things looked like from eye level.

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Can you find them all?



3 responses to “By Looking Down I Found Five Things

  1. Another fine children’s book! I did the seek and find at the end — I think you kept the penny for good luck.

  2. I am a treasure seeker, too. I can’t walk a beach and enjoy the vistas, as I am most likely looking down among the shells and pebbles. You have quite the story to tell – having grown up on the island, with 70 years experience there. We are only yearly visitors, and I love it so much I could see myself living there if my family came along. I wonder what native residents such as yourself think of the new encroachment – the Casino. Admittedly, I am a little heartbroken that such a thing will come to be – seems to anti-Vineyard vibe. But who am I to say…

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