Treasure Hunting

It happens every year.  Summoned by the calls of spring and other unknown cues, a treasure is unearthed.  I hear the cues too somehow; like a woman hears her biological clock ticking, and I know.  It’s time to go treasure hunting.

Treasure is defined as something hidden or kept in a safe place, and something valuable or special.  My treasure is all of these things.  It is hidden for most of the year.  It is kept in a safe place in that only a few (two?) people know about.  It is even buried, so to speak.  It is valuable.  Were I to sell it, I might get over $20.00 per pound.  I couldn’t get rich on my treasure, there’s never that much, but that’s not a concern.  While I do use the treasure every year, there’s something equally, or more important than the treasure itself.  I think it’s the hunt.

What is it about treasure hunting that drives some people to spend their lives in its pursuit?  Obviously fame and fortune come to mind.  But is the treasure hunter satisfied once his or her quest is through, or is there a hidden need bubbling below the surface to hunt again?  I can’t answer this because I am not seeking a fortune.

Perhaps, it is the thrill of the hunt?  To be the first to make a discovery or to search in secret or to dive in dangerous waters must motivate the thrill seeker as much as the goal.  I am not sure my hunt is thrilling though there is some danger.  I could fall prey to the tiny bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi if I were to be bitten by a deer tick.  While this is not an inconsequential risk, I have decided it cannot keep me from being in nature http://www.halcyonnature.com/2013/04/22/tick-troubles/

I could also be viciously attacked by multiflora rose (Multiflora rosa).  This has happened despite my careful nature.  Many times I have left blood on their grabbing, clutching thorns – and I do fight back.  This isn’t thrilling, just painful.  Is it the thrill of the hunt for some? Again, I can’t relate.  I’m too old for thrill seeking.

For me the hunt is something else.  I find it hard to articulate.  If you climbed trees or boulders as a child you might have a sense of what I feel on the hunt.  If you’ve ever caved and had to wiggle through a small space on your belly, you might understand.  In my hunt, I have to cross a stream, often by jumping.  I scurry under branches and vines.  I scan the forest floor focusing on one sense – sight – yet somehow feel my other senses heighten.  The flexible maneuvering under branches helps me feel younger.  But there’s more.  As I get deeper into the woods, cueing on my sight image, which is a year old and fuzzy in my mind, I start to feel wild.  I follow a deer trail.  Why not?  Other animals would for ease of travel.  I start to forget my body and just move, step, squat, scurry, step, stop, look, listen, step.  Am I the deer browsing?  Am I the squirrel burying my own treasure for next year? Am I the blue jay that narrowly escaped? It doesn’t matter.  I just know I am not me right then.  My cells stir trying to recall a distant evolutionary past.  I get lost in this past, a past much more vague than childhood.  Is it possible to remember? Suddenly I know; this is really what I’m hunting.

Morchella, the edible morel mushroom, is my tangible treasure.  I didn’t find any on my hunt yesterday, or the last three times I went.  Perhaps our late spring has slowed its emergence.  Perhaps I won’t find any this year.  That’s ok.  The reason I am called to the hunt is a need for something I probably can’t actualize.  I know some treasures are intangible, yet I know I will keep hunting.

Other treasures I found:

Maybe some kind of beetle eggs?

Maybe some kind of beetle eggs?

One's man trash is . . . yes, I kept it.

One’s man trash is . . . yes, I kept it.

Spicebush flowers

Spicebush flowers

Blue Jay feathers

Blue Jay feathers