When I was a kid I wanted to be an archeologist…
I spent about ten hours over two days this past weekend shoveling, raking and roto-tilling the area where our garden will be. I could barely move Sunday evening. This will be the second year we have had our garden in this area, but we expanded it by about 1/3 this year and we are working on putting up decent fencing that will keep the goats out. It’s now about 15’ wide x 35’ long, not a huge space, but enough for us to grow some fresh food.
We live on an old property. Our house was built sometime around 1890. Our three small barns are newer but I’m guessing were built in maybe the 1940’s or 1950’s. There has been A LOT of people that have lived on this property and I have learned, in the twenty years that we have been here, that if you dig a hole, you will inevitably find something.
We’ve never discovered anything valuable or terribly noteworthy. It’s usually just pieces of rusty metal, nails and small pieces of farm equipment, but we are always joking about finding “artifacts.” There are, seemingly, pieces of pottery and porcelain all over the place, buried a few inches under the ground, hidden history of the one hundred plus years of home owners that came before us. For awhile I was collecting small pieces of what seemed to be a brown pottery bowl, thinking I could glue it all back together, but eventually gave up.
This is what I found while digging around in our garden this year:
My imagination runs wild when I find something, so I think we’ve obviously either uncovered an old civil war camp or the site of an alien spaceship landing… or maybe just a place where previous residents used to throw some trash. Yes, that is Naughty’s (one of our goats) name tag you see there in the center, probably lost within the last few weeks. When I looked down and saw that shiny circle, about 1/3 of it peeking out from underneath the freshly tilled soil, I thought “this is it, I’ve finally found the Holy Grail, a valuable 19th century coin!”
Alas, just Naughty’s name tag… oh well, maybe next time.
What is it about boys and digging up stuff? Yes, even at 45 years old, give me a shovel and let me dig a hole and in my mind there is sure to be buried treasure if I dig deep enough. In fifth grade, a friend of mine lived in a very old house, much older than mine, near Smithtown, Long Island, New York, where I grew up. It was a sprawling 18th century home, sitting up on a small bluff next to a marsh of the Long Island Sound. Deep in the woods on their property they had discovered an old trash burial site where we would go dig up cool old things, mostly chunks of glass and pottery and rusted metal that was unidentifiable as to its purpose in a previous life. We never found anything terribly noteworthy then either, but I do remember one day digging up an old rusty can labeled “tooth powder” and figured that was what people used to brush their teeth with back in the day.
I never became an archeologist…
Like most people, there were lots of things I wanted to be as a kid that I never pursued. When I was in elementary school I wanted to draw cartoons for the newspaper. My claim to fame, as a cartoonist, was a six frame cartoon that in the first frame showed a house with a Garage Sale sign in front. I don’t remember all the details, but as the frames progressed, a Giant shows up to the sale, apparently does some intense negotiating and ends up carrying away the actual garage.
Get it… garage sale? Hilarious!
So I never became a cartoonist either…
After that, for a period of time, I wanted to be a Writer. I didn’t really know anything about writing and I rarely wrote, but my grandmother, who wrote poetry and, over the years, columns for local newspapers and magazines, put that thought in my mind so I went with it. I never really wrote anything consistently until I started The Brown Road Chronicles, but now it’s become a pretty regular part of my day to day life so perhaps I shouldn’t cross this one off the list yet.
When I was in high school I wanted to be a Park Ranger. In my high school yearbook I was voted something like “most likely to go off into the woods and live like a hermit” or maybe it was “most likely to become a Park Ranger.” Or maybe it was some combination of the two. I can’t remember the exact quote and I don’t know where my yearbook is to look it up.
But I never became a Park Ranger… or a hermit…
The list goes on and on. I never became a Professional Cellist or a Ford Fashion Model or a Graphic Artist or a Custom Furniture Maker or an Antiques Dealer either and I can say, to this day, I still really haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up.
Professional writer, homesteader, goat farmer is probably the latest on the list…
Kids have that amazing ability to dream about wanting to pursue “careers” that seem unique and glamorous and fun. Then we become adults and realize that the odds aren’t very good to make a living as musicians or artists or authors… or archeologists… or homesteader, goat farmers. There’s a limited number of “slots” for every career and some of us have to fill the other slots and sometimes those slots aren’t as interesting or glamorous or fun.
But the point is to never stop dreaming about it whether those dreams are realistic or totally unobtainable. Because if you stop dreaming, you stop living and of all the things I’ve taught my children, some good, some not so good, some still to come… the one thing I hope I’ll be most proud of when I send them off, wings spread, into the world of adult hood… is that they’ll be dreamers too.
Now, I think I’ll go dig a hole. I’m sure that coin is out there somewhere.
What do you want to be when you grow up?