Friday, October 14, 2011

The Hero and the Hoop

If you're not into earrings this story isn't for you. If accounts of resourceful endeavor are up your alley, however, you may want to hang on. We'll get to that part.

But first we start with earrings. I had my ears pierced after I became a mom. This puts me in the class of late starters as far as earrings are concerned.

I quickly made up for lost time. For years earrings were the most enjoyable part of shopping at the mall. My purchases also came from artisans at art fairs and venders in cruise ports. The silver dolphin earrings are from such a stop.

Mostly they were inexpensive pieces. Friends told of losing precious earrings - diamond or gold earrings which had been big occasion gifts. Besides the sentimental loss they were a cost to replace.

My tastes were more basic for the active life. When scrubbing toilets or washing dishes the sparkle you want to see is not the diamonds at your ears but the gleam of porcelain or the shine of dinnerware rinsed clean.

For a long time my earrings were sturdy and stayed on. They clicked into the post and were unshakable through all I put them. The first lost earring was a big deal. This kind of mishap was new to me.

It was an intricate filigree hoop. It was discovered missing with a glance in the mirror after returning from getting friends at the airport. Both earrings were on when I left the house. Where, I asked in dismay, could the earring have gone?

I retraced my steps through the house. I looked in the car. I dug into my purse. On hands and knees I felt under the hidden recesses of the bureau. There was the possibility the earring fell out right away and rolled out of sight.

No one commented that I was sporting one earring. In itself this isn't strange. We're often oblivious to details about each other. Preference in personal appearance is a subject largely left alone. This is a good thing until those times when it isn't. I'd have been wildly appreciative of someone pointing out the missing earring. The search would have started right there.

The lone earring was unfastened and dropped in a drawer. It was the first of now a number of earrings set aside in the slim chance their partners will be recovered.

Many of us have a place for our orphan earrings. They're the ones which resolutely stay attached while their mates go missing. Lost earrings are almost never found. In effect we build earring museums. Sometimes I come across the left-behinds. They remind me of the pleasure in wearing them when the earrings were a set.

For of course it's only favorite earrings that get lost. It's a rule of thumb among earring wearers to expect that the earrings which mean the most to you won't go the whole distance. Put on a so-so pair and you'll have them fifty years from now. They aren't going anywhere. But the earrings you love - ah! they're the ones that get away.

About a year ago I bought a pair of sparkly hoop earrings. They were modestly expensive. They were bling but I was ready for some bling. Diamonds ("diamond dust" the jewelry department salesperson told me) encircled the mid-size gold hoop. They had a beautiful gleam in the right light.

"Want to come with me?" Al asked one recent morning. The boating season is at its end and he wanted to try a nearby lake not visited before. Temperatures were mild. It made some lake time, while not planned, a great detour in the day. I threw on a denim jacket and joined him before the invite was out of his mouth.

The diamond earrings were surely shining as the sun beamed down on us. We circumnavigated the smallish lake in our rendition of a farewell tour.

A young woman in a canoe skimmed the waves near us. We exchanged greetings. The changing foliage as seen from the lake was pleasing on the eye. It was a relaxed last outing as we pulled into shore.

I stayed with the boat while Al went to get the truck. I crouched close to the metal post to which the boat was tied. Suddenly I heard ploof, a sound so small it sounded like a sigh. From the dock I looked down into the water. A bubble was rising to the surface on the water.

Some piece of grass must have fallen off the dock was my first thought, judging the tiny bubble that formed. Oh oh was the subsequent reaction. My hand went to my right ear. The earring was gone.

"My earring fell into the water!" were not words Al imagined he'd be hearing when he innocently came back to hook boat to boat trailer. The water, while not murky, was deep enough, and the water cool enough, that my impulse to look for it made no sense.

This pair of earrings had fast become a favorite. I put them on this morning not dreaming we would be boating. I'd never had an earring just fall out and sink into the water. It put a crimp on the boating excursion.

Earrings are earrings after all I said. I tried practicing a resigned shrug. But then it came to me. Al is inventive. Could we devise a scoop? With a scoop we could return to the lake. We could check the area where the earring fell in. The hoop was light. I reasoned it would have settled like a feather on the sandy bottom by the dock.

Al went to work making a screening gadget. After supper, and before it got dark, as storm clouds threatened in the west, we drove back to the lake. Our earring finder was in the back seat. It was a garden rake fixed up. A square section of wire mesh was wired to the teeth of the rake. The screen would sift the sand.

In the car trunk were the duck waders Al knew he would need. At the dock he pulled on the waders. Dressed in waders and wielding the rake he was a figure of curiosity for the occupants of the only other car in the parking lot.

He waded in, up to his chest in water by the time all was done. From the dock I gave suggestions for where my hero should try next. In his mesh screen he picked up small rocks of varying sizes and fragments of dark red glass. No lightweight circle of bling was found. After many attempts to locate the earring we gave up.

At some point in the day disappointment over the lost earring became the adventure of a plan to try to find it. Al was a good enough fellow to rig up a screening tool, don waders and take on the October waters because he knew the earring was important to me.

As we drove to the lake, not knowing whether the earring would stay lost or we'd get lucky, I was reminded of how easy it can be to give up on anything. Al's attitude of being agreeable to look for the earring, as long a shot as it was to find it, says something too.

His help with this told me there can be a changed net result, without the original thing changing an iota, when two work together on something.

Teamwork can be a definition of adventure. This kind of adventure comes when two or more decide to make something matter.

It wasn't the sparkly earrings that ultimately meant the most to me. It was the desire, and the effort put into it, to do our utmost to locate the earring. We worked from the oldest of principles. What is lost can be worth looking for.

Ro Giencke - October 14, 2011

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