July 5, 2018
It was early when I started digging, long before the office staff who work in July arrived or any students from the summer musical got to campus. Shoes wet from the dew, I tromped out to the grassy area behind the school, triangulated a spot between a tree and the band room, and hitched the shovel off my shoulder. You will hear some people say that digging up buried treasure is the most exciting thing ever; I’ll argue that burying it is just as fine.
Armed with a shovel and a post hole digger, I was careful to keep the turf intact as I lifted a circle from the ground and dug down deep enough to feel significant. Beside me on the grass the glass jar with the newspaper wrapped cow puppet waited to be buried.
The weather had been hot all week and the sun promised another scorcher, but in those morning minutes of digging it was still cool. A set of portables and some storage containers shielded my work from the parking lot and main campus. The summer theater techs and actors would be there soon, but not before I’d be done with my digging, my tools cleaned, and tucked back behind the door in my office.
Alone, and one of the few times I was alone in this collaborative adventure, I paused to think about what this might look like in February or March. Would students discover this buried treasure in a large group or a small one? What sort of confidence would it take to dig into the ground, a ground covered by grass that had grown from the rain of fall, fallowed beneath January snow, and been mowed under the clear sun of late winter?
The treasure map was yet to be drawn. The story of Clarence Morgan Arbuthnot, and Clement of CE Mason Elementary, and Mary St. More, and any others who would make their way into the narrative was still a blank book, just whispers of conversation and a few sparks of ideas. Between this sunny day and the time a shovel would bite into this ground there was so much yet to do.
Here in July, poised between the initial bustle of the spring and the creative work of the fall, I relished the opportunity to take a deep breath of morning air, place the jar into the opening in the earth, and cover it again with dirt and sod. From here forward the pirate story, and story of those generations after, would rush forward before finally ending here in the field behind campus. I stepped on the circle of grass and brushed away the excess dirt with my shoe.