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Another Day in the Country

The discovery drawer

© Another Day in the Country

Here’s a confession: I order magazines to read just so that I have something interesting coming in my mailbox besides monthly bills.

Yes, I know, the powers-that-be want you to get your bills online, but I don’t trust online, knowing how tentative it can be at times.

For some reason, probably habit, the U.S. mail and a real piece of paper in my hand seems a better bet.

Through the years, I’ve ended up with an interesting and eclectic bunch of magazines, ranging from Bazaar to Birds and Bees, Smithsonian to Real Simple, American Farmhouse to The Week.

Reading Smithsonian the other day, I noticed a small advertisement in the lower left column of an article about the Aztecs for something called “The Discovery Box.”

Being that Christmas is coming and I’m always looking for unusual gifts to give the kids in my life, I read the advertisement twice.

There was a website listed, and I looked it up. 

The Discovery Box turned out to be a small wooden box with drawers, promising to come complete with items from nature that the recipient could learn about.

You also could order extra things like a shell collection or some insect encased in plastic.

What a good idea, I thought, even though my grandson is too old for a gift like that. I could do this for my bonus grandkids.

Then realized I already have one. My living room is full of drawers at their disposal, already full of treasures to discover. 

When the kids come to visit, they’ve always loved looking through drawers where I keep marble games as well as a plethora of other items.

There are little drawers, big drawers, and side drawers, and all of them are full of stuff.

It’s time to organize them, I said to myself. This prompted me to begin cleaning out drawers from the game table, the end table, and the sideboard table. From there I went to the coffee table and the old camphor chest that had been Dr. Shaw’s pride and joy.

These little table drawers are places visited by me once in a blue moon. I find some little treasure, admire it, chuck it in a drawer, only to find again another day and be similarly awed.

Here’s my big discovery: My whole house is a Discovery Box. Because I’m endlessly curious and a habitual keeper, I was surprised to find a theme emerging. Almost every drawer included incense, matches, marbles, toy cars, candles, dice, pens, pebbles, card games and stray coins. 

My fascination with coins began as a child when my dad, the preacher, would let me count the offering after evangelistic meetings.

It kept me occupied while Mom and Dad were busy talking to people. It was in the offering plate that I found my first foreign coin.

Who puts a foreign coin into an offering plate at church? I still wonder. I decided it probably was a person who wanted to be seen giving something, like most people do, but didn’t want to give anything too valuable, so that weird coin that was of no use went into the plate.

Dad didn’t know what to do with stray coins from Canada or Italy either, so he let me have a pfennig from Germany. Thus began my collection of change from all over the world, worth very little in monetary value but so much fun to look at and hold in your hand.

Collecting Matchbox cars is understandable. It began with my own kids, and I suppose it continues with the kid in me, even at 80.

This kid also loves marbles of all sizes and colors. A couple of mine are hand-blown beauties from the Moon Marble Co. near Kansas City, but most of them are hand-me-downs.

The incense represents my incessant search for just the right kind of musk and patchouli that I remember from the 1960s and enjoy smelling in my house. They’re all different, some better than others.

Rocks are a little harder to explain, but who can resist picking up pebbles as you walk along a road or at the beach? They are so pretty, especially when they are wet.

For years in California, I kept a shallow pottery bowl filled with rocks and covered with water outside on the deck. I said it was water for the critters, but it really was for me, just to see those beautiful stones all wet and shiny.

In Kansas, since we have freezing weather, the rocks don’t end up in a water-filled bowl but in a newly named discovery drawer, along with stray coins, pine cones, and books of matches. 

I had so much fun rummaging through the drawers in my own living room, rediscovering my own passion for trivia, that before I knew it, I’d spent a whole day in the country.

Last modified Nov. 23, 2023

 

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