Finding things

What delighted surprise, what eye-widening happiness, what an unexpected burst of joy accompanies finding something you had thought lost and out of your life.
Finding solutions to problems, the path to happiness, or a new recipe are all certainly fine, but they lack that brilliant moment of discovery and the spontaneous exclamation that unexpectedly finding a tangible, touchable thing generates.

Today was a day of finding. The snowshoes had been missing for several weeks, along with a snow shovel. They were not in the barn, nor in the car, nor up at the garage where we keep some things. We concluded they had to be leaning against the woodshed, which was now covered in two feet of snow. New snow beckoned, so we hauled out the guest pair again and tossed them in the car. We finished shoveling the path from the house to the parking space and tackled the taller than me mound left by the snowplow. Clank. It was the snow shovel. We jumped up and down and shoveled with renewed energy until we dug it out enough to pull free. With mounting excitement we probed deeper, and soon had both intact and ice-coated snowshoes unburied and back into circulation. The joy of finding them had us smiling and thumping each other like kids. We had been very pleased when we bought them a few months ago, but finding them was far more fun.

The other find was our cat Drosselmeyer, although he might object to be classified as a thing. I was in a workshop all day Saturday, and came home to be told there was bad news. Our cat was gone. It is winter, and he dashes out a few times a day to avoid a litter box, but spends most of this season in a ball near the fire. He had gone out in the morning, and it was after five when I returned home. We called, rattled food, looked in shed, attic, basement, any place he might have gotten shut into, but no cat. I wandered the street, checking with neighbors, but no Dros. Well after midnight we went to bed, assuring each other he was holed up somewhere waiting out the snow. The morning was clear, the snow had stopped, and there was no cat at the door. I was told a bobcat had been seen lately, and coyotes and fox are always a threat. “Might have been a fisher, too,” my husband said. “He’s gone, I’m so sorry,” and he gave me a sympathetic hug. Wiping the counter after lunch I paused. I didn’t hear anything, but knew I had to check the basement again. I went outside, opened the cellar door, and out popped Dros.

Finding things when looking for them is rewarding, Other finds come completely out of the blue, and astonishment adds to the pleasure. I donned a coat for the first time in months, and reached in the pocket to find the mate to a favorite pair of earrings. And I still had the odd one.

Another find was my brand new slick, light and gorgeous black biking jacket, worn twice. How can you lose a biking jacket? It wasn’t in the closet, in any of the bike bags, or in the laundry. I tossed everything out of the closet looking for it; I opened all the suitcases in the attic. Did my husband borrow it, or put it away someplace strange? I was sure he had. I, of course, could not have left it someplace and forgotten. Biking up the hill near the house one day I looked right, saw the small building Acadia National Park uses to house tools, and I remembered that hot day six months ago. We had started on a ride, and I was overdressed. “I’ll leave my jacket here, and get it on the way back,” I said. Six months later, memory jogged, I went around the building and there it was still tucked in the corner where I had left it. But oh, that jolting moment when I saw the shed in my side vision and was slammed by the knowledge my jacket was there. I had biked by it dozens of times without it clicking, but then, not quietly but with a loud hurrah, the memory (and the jacket) came back.

After eye surgery I treated myself to some outrageous and probably unflattering sunglasses, and wore them only a few times before they left me. I searched coat pockets, car, asked friends, but they were gone. Periodic random searches subsided, and like the seventh stage of grief I accepted their loss. Sunglass season ended without them, and the winter passed as well. That spring I was clearing the little artificial stream in the yard, scooping up heavy wet leaves, when up came my oversized, round, tortoise-framed sunglasses. How, oh how, I wondered, did they get there? They must have unobtrusively slipped out of a pocket as I was unclogging the filter, or rearranging a rock.

Few things in life give such happiness for so little. There is no planning, you needn’t do anything, go anywhere, make any effort. One moment life is simply moving forward. Then, totally unexpectedly, something lost has decided to come home. It does not just slip back in quietly, but re-enters with a shout, and mouth dropping surprise.

Just wish I didn’t have to lose something first.

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