February 4, 2010

Things that matter: Sea glass and coins

That's the view from above down into my mug of trinkets: sea glass, stones, and odd coinage from my times abroad.

I've lived most all my life near water, the Ohio River, to be specific.  Grew up in New Albany, Indiana, just across from Louisville on the Ohio River.  After a brief sojourn to Crawfordsville where the biggest water was - and still is - Sugar Creek, I packed up my things and moved to Cincinnati, an hour and a half closer to the confluence.

But I've only ever spent one year near the ocean.  See, my family wasn't the kind to spend a week in Florida every summer lounging on the beach.  We didn't, in fact, go on many vacations at all (New York City was a working vacation for my dad, the Arizona trip was to visit family, and Washington was the only other trip longer than a weekend that I can ever remember taking), so I wasn't a kid who ever fell in love with the beach.  To this day, I have no interest in spending a day at the beach just hanging around, playing in the sand and surf.

For nine months, however, I went down to the beach once a week because the long stretch of sand was a fifteen minute walk from home, and because I had a whole lot of time on my hands.  To fill those hands, then, I started picking up sea glass, bits of broken bottles that had been ravaged and beaten by the waves and washed back to shores probably far from whence they'd come.


There aren't any pieces that would be judged exceedingly rare or attractive, I'm guessing (at least not from what I understand from my minor reading about sea glass), but they're all pieces that I picked up.  They're things that I found while wandering the sands of Scotland - and Spain just after the new year.  They wouldn't matter to anybody else in the world other than the person who had picked them up.

Also in the mix are a couple of worn stones that I don't even remember where and when they came to me.  I remember thinking - as I still do - how gorgeous the longer, browner stone was when I picked it up because it had a single hole worn halfway through it, repeated drips in exactly the same place for years into the sandstone.  It could be from Turkey Run State Park or the Isle of Aran for all I remember at this point, but I wouldn't give it up for its weight in gold.

In that same mug - more on the mug in a moment - are the pecuniary remnants of my memories.  There are bimetallic coins from Italy, a last token from Aladdin's Castle (the second video game arcade that I remember), a golden penny from one of my many labs, a heptagonal 20pence piece from the UK, Deutsch marks, liras, pounds, French francs, US half dollars, a steel penny, a silver dime, coins from countries I've not visited and whose names I can't make out in the native language on them, even a penny slug.

They've all come to me in various ways - from our Pasta for Pennies campaign, in pocket change while I was in the nation, as a chance to play a few more games of Dragon's Lair, transformed by me from copper to 'gold', but they're all mine, and once every couple of years, I get them out and look through them.

They're mine..they matter.

As does the cup that that they're in...because it's my dad's.

Well, it was his anyway.  It was - I think I have this right - presented to him by his 1979 swim team.  I would've been three at the time and probably had been around the pool - which would've been the junior high pool back then, and he would've had another five years coaching before he hung up the whistle.

I can't imagine my students ever giving me a stein - a book or two, sure, but not a pewter stein.  I don't care about the mug because of itself but rather because it reminds me that I come from a pretty good teacher.

All in all, the mug and its contents matter to me.


Katydid said...

I like these "Things that Matter" posts, especially this one. I certainly rifled through lots of P4P change looking for wheat pennies.

Ame said...

Dad swears that his silver stein is still in the basement. He really doesn't believe ya have it. :)

PHSChemGuy said...

Katydid - I have a couple more lined up, just need to take the pictures to match. Love the new profile pic, by the way.

Ame - feel free to show him the picture as proof. Those pics were taken in my classroom this winter break.