lessons from the hunt

we set out to collect abandoned railroad spikes with the quiet hope of finding one of those greenish glass marble like balls. i was schooled this day by my son.

we ate first at the restaurant “closest to our house if we are riding down main street” and then headed to the tracks.  these are quiet tracks and i gave the same rules, hopes, plans and boundaries as always. we walked collecting spikes. i had a backpack and once they picked up 3-4, they could put them in my pack. eliza was a quiet and steady companion, absorbed and uncharacteristically content with a seemingly mundane task.

at one point i got a strong but dull awareness that i’d never walked this stretch of track before. i’d been beyond it and i’d been behind it, these are the same tracks that are half a block from my family’s home. but in 26 years i’d never been on this stretch…the stretch between main street and sand creek.  i asked the kids if they felt weird being here, if they felt like something was wrong, if it felt like we shouldn’t be here.

micah says,
“well yeah, it feels like we shouldn’t be here
because we’ve never been here before.”

lesson one.

we walk on really quietly, picking up spikes, noticing abandoned buildings, listening for dogs, guessing on what is causing the rustles in the woods. then we start talking about how cool it would be to actually find one of those glass balls. we’ve heard different theories on what they are, but we know they can be found around the tracks. we talk about how rare they are, how old they are and then bam. there it is. a perfect air bubble filled greenish glass ball, chipped and worn in spots.

micah says,
“we were just talking about it and we found it…
that means we should always talk about what we want.”

lesson two.

my heart swirled with the gift of learning, we got back to our bikes, cinched up the back pack, and i heaved it on. the weight of it made me wobble and giggle and feel foolish.

i weighed it when we got home: 44 pounds of spikes and 1 hand warm of glass ball.

3 thoughts on “lessons from the hunt

  1. The glass balls are the raw material for fiber glass insulation. There is a plant at Mcpherson. When they are unloaded the doors aren’t closed and a few marbles or pieces are dislodged on the return trip. I like them too.


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