MY LIFE - The things you find

MY LIFE - The things you find

I was searching for the very nice certificate I had received from the National Wildlife Federation dated Nov. 19, 2013, designating my slightly messy little yard a Certified Wildlife Habitat in their “worldwide network of mini-refuges.”

It stated that “Because of the owner’s conscientious planning, landscaping and sustainable gardening, wildlife may find quality habitat – food, water, cover, and places to raise their young.” I hesitated to point out the fact that it was more happy happenstance with little or no planning involved, but since I didn’t want to embarrass them, I decided to just let the matter slide.

I’m really not meaning to brag here, and I know that it sounds like a pretty geeky thing, but it really pleases me to see such a wide variety of birds and what I refer to as critters here on my little suburban plot of land. It never occurred to me that it might be considered anything special until my daughter Kathy, who is infinitely more of a “tree hugger” than I am, told me I should apply for the certification.

When filling out the paperwork, I was surprised to learn that the woodpile and the residual rock pile (unadopted leftovers from the demolition of an old fireplace) along the back fence were prized by all kinds of wildlife, as were all my various plantings, bird feeders, and birdbaths. I was even more surprised to receive the certificate which I then tucked away for safekeeping.

I don’t remember why I was suddenly looking for the thing five years later, but the search through the many shelves and cubbies of my spare room soon took on the feel of an archaeological dig.

My first find was a copy of my grandfather Bouchard’s naturalization papers, dated Nov. 9, 1908, in Deadwood, S.D. He and his wife had left their farm in Quebec in 1902 and headed to South Dakota where he worked in the Homestake Gold Mine until he was injured in an explosion in 1910.

I found the owner’s manual for the chainsaw, later sold still in its original box at a yard sale a few years ago after being scared out of ever using it by my children who had been terrified by its original purchase.

In rapid succession, I unearthed the instruction manual for the electric fireplace that’s in the sunroom, two Glo-Guns (?), a set of size-10 knit-in-the-dark knitting needles, batteries included, and a balsa wood glider still in its wrapper.

There was my old Garmin GPS that had led me seriously astray more than once before being replaced (Why did I keep it? Why do I still have it even now?), a very nice, brand new Vera Bradley zippered pouch, and a kit of lavender essential oils that I apparently had no idea what to do with then anymore than I do now, and yet it remains on the shelf, which perhaps gives you some idea of how this is going and why.

Tucked way back behind everything was a tiny brand new hand-knitted light blue infant hat with a little chin strap that promptly went into the bag of hats our knitting group was donating to an inner city coat drive in Worcester, a pair of used black, men’s socks that just as promptly went into the trash, and pattern and fabric for a small Christmas tree I never got around to making...yet.

There was an unopened box of Crayola colored pencils and a Mickey Mouse Magic Ink coloring book, obviously stashed away as part of a long ago Christmas gift for a grandson who turns 11-years-old this weekend and is now too old for them (but fortunately never too old for the balsa wood glider).

I found a December 2012 Ellery Queen Magazine to which my late son Rick had a subscription that expired long after he did, and my own “Spanish for Dummies,” one of several “Dummies” books on various subjects, most of which are in a different room.

For some reason that remains unclear, there was a brand new, unopened pair of really pretty lace 24” tier curtains and a pair of tension rods to go with them. The only room with two windows in it is my room and it already has full length lace curtains in its windows and no reason in the world why it would need tiers. If anyone out there could use them, let me know and they’re yours. They are too pretty to waste.

All of the above were found in the shelving units, mixed in willy-nilly with a bunch of other stuff I knew was there, but the cubbies in the big computer desk held a different sort of surprises. Like a packet of my late father-in-law’s WWII army papers (copies, not originals), a stack of enough unused Christmas cards in both English and French to get this year’s mailing well on its way, and a packet of heartwarming thank you letters (several of which made me cry) from people who had requested sand from Omaha Beach after I returned from a trip there 10 years ago. Oh, and let’s not forget the two thick packets of documents from previous mortgage refinances done several years ago that I finally got around to shredding just yesterday.

That was the point at which I found the manila envelope that triggered the search to start with, and the point at which the digging and sorting stopped, leaving me amazed at the sheer volume and variety of artifacts to be found when one begins digging and wondering what might still be lurking, just waiting to be unearthed.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.