Buried Treasure

Originally Published 08/08/11, 9:08 AM

Photo Source: Jessica Beebe

I always filled my pockets and imagination with treasures here. Shimmying down the chain holding the pier to the rocks at low tide, I would crawl under the deck, into the chill shadow and gather shells, gull feathers, quartz, perfectly formed rocks, caps from beer bottles, twine from lobster traps, lobster buoys…the detritus of a working ocean village.

My finds always became my favorite new toys, and always a source of speculation, touchstones of a world of wonder in my head. Did the gull know he lost a feather and did he miss it? What was the name of the lobster boat that the buoy fell from? Who drank that Budweiser and what happened to them?

I rescued the buoy I found under the pier. I decided it was from a lobster boat called the Penny Anne – did I crib the name from a boat I saw as we drove the familiar route from home to sea who knows – and it became a prop in the lobster boat named the Penny Anne that I set up in my bedroom. I tacked an extra sheet to the ceiling, draped it over the side of my bed and I had my own private lobster boat, with my very own buoy to throw over into the deep…shag carpeting.

And so I crawled under the pier, over the rocks exposed by the tide, through the narratives I would never know but only co-opt for my own. And the characters in my yarns would tell me what I needed and what I wanted it all to be. My narratives were, as it turned out, all I needed: strength and stability, anchorage, security, grounding. Optimism and dreams, in the tangible refuse of the sea and the town.

Of course it was all nothing but a nice childhood pipe-dream; just a romantic notion of a world that never did and never would exist. But I like to think I drew something from those youthful dreams of security and sanity. And I’d like to think I’m still pursuing that dreamworld…

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