Friday, October 30, 2009

It's all about the hunt

I have always wanted to be an artist although there were times, as a youngster, that I also thought being a professional baseball or football player sounded good. And there was a period in the 60’s that I thought I wanted to be a scientist. But when I was asked the question a few months back, “What would be your dream job?” I surprised myself by answering, after some contemplation, that I would like to be a treasure hunter.

I enjoy the reflective, satisfying feeling derived from painting and drawing, but the activity that has always given me a sensation of excited anticipation and gut-wrenching thrill has been the search for treasure. I have never considered anything as extensive or dangerous as shipwreck diving or spelunking, but I have often gone in search of my own sort of treasure.

When I was a kid, my family moved to a different house from time to time. We would sometimes find old coins, buried deep in the cushions of furniture left behind. Occasionally, there were old coats hanging in deserted storage rooms that also yielded coins from the pockets. This led to a coin collecting hobby that continues today.

Garage sales and estate sales have been some of my most lucrative hunting grounds. Whether it is an old picture that I can hardly wait to bring home and open up the frame to see what might be hiding behind it, or a vintage Fisher Price toy that costs $2.00 and can be resold on eBay for $50, the hunt and the find is rewarding. Coming across old issues of art magazines and books, or an old Currier & Ives print, is exciting…it could just as well be a buried chest on a deserted island in the south Pacific.

I can only imagine the thrill and challenges felt by people who dive on sunken ships or explore ancient tombs. In my own little world, I feel similar anticipation when I check out a deserted barn or discover an old car in a field. The possibility of stumbling upon old treasures of the past as I roam around a junkyard or dumpsite is enough to make my adrenaline flow.

More recently, my wife and I have started geocaching, which blends elements of exploring, hiking and treasure hunting into a very enjoyable pastime. With our portable GPS, we have had an opportunity to visit some unique roads and trails as we follow the coordinates to hidden treasures. Hundreds of thousands of caches are hidden, all over the world. We often spend Sunday afternoon searching for newly placed caches in the area, and always make it a part of our annual vacation to search out those near our destination. Just a couple of months ago, for the first time, we prepared a cache of our own and hid it in a nearby regional park.

So, just as blogging seems to have satisfied my desire to be a writer, I think geocaching has filled my need to explore and hunt for treasure. The next time you see someone on hands and knees, peering inside a hollow log, stop and say hello – it just might be me!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I can hardly wait!

Husband, father,
brother, son.
I hope I've passed the test.

Uncle, boss
and loyal friend;
I know I've tried my best.

But a role that I
have never played
will start in spring, next year.

A grandpa!
I can hardly wait!
I'm grinning ear to ear!

Congratulations, Laura and Chris. I love you both.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It is a season of transition.

Perhaps second only to spring, when dirty snow and ice accumulated during a long, gray winter give way to new blades of green grass and budding trees, the transition from summer to fall approaches with magical, yet sometimes agonizing, anticipation.

Besides the fact that I can no longer exclaim, “ball game tonight!” as I arrive home from work, the beauty and warmth of our Midwestern summer begins to wane. But then, it’s difficult to complain about losing summer’s beauty when it is replaced by autumn’s parade of red, yellow and gold; the smell of crisp, October air; the crunch of frosty grass underfoot; and the amazing sculptures of willows and oaks as they undress to expose their limbs against the cool, gray sky.

Kids are back in school, and I can’t help but notice (and appreciate) the transition to older crews working at McDonalds and elsewhere. A shift in my morning drive time is calculated to avoid following the school bus and its many pick-up stops. It’s now a little darker in the morning, and in the evening, and soon the only daylight hours will be while I am sitting in my windowless office. (Of course, these days I am just glad to have an office in which to sit!)

Outdoor projects are transitioning to indoor projects. The travel trailer has been stored for the winter, the pool will soon be covered, and the mower deck will need to be replaced with the snow blower. I will rake the fallen leaves, and they will make good winter cover for the perennial flowers. One final garage cleaning will enable us to park indoors again.

Transitions. Our lives are full of them. Some are nearly the same every year, while others sneak up on us while we are busy with our lives.

But now, with fewer projects on my list, I begin a refreshed season of painting and drawing. The outdoors is no longer competing for my time, and I look forward to a prolific six months.

I love transition.