Inaugural homegrown treasures column

My son is an expert at finding treasures. Although he's a newcomer to this game, he far outdistances me as a treasure hunter. He knows that a walk down a country road will lead you closer to treasure than scrubbing the toilet ever will. He knows there's no better bargain than running through the sprinkler on a hot summer day. He knows that to uncover buried treasure, you sometimes dig upward instead of downward, climbing the oak tree for a peek at that bird's nest or swinging a little higher on his swing.

We recently returned from a month long tour of "The Relatives." Grandparents, cousins, great-aunts, and uncles. You name them, we saw them. My son began saying things like, "If this is Tuesday, we must be at Aunt Orpha's."

Of course, to my son, it didn't matter where we were. For him, a trip to the local junk-heap is as inspiring as a drive down the Champs Elysees. He knows whatever treasures we discover around us are largely what we make up our minds to find.

In this column, we're going to uncover treasures – places to go, sights to see, things to do, and ideas to ponder, all right here in our own backyard. The first rule to remember on this treasure hunt is it's not for the purpose of adding busyness to our lives, but for adding enjoyment.

According to Webster's, busy means "cluttered with minute detail to the point of distracting attention from the focal point," (or treasure, as I like to call it). Unlike my son, I continuously lose sight of the treasure. Incurable busyness is the doctor's diagnosis. My husband threatens to build a room in the garage and call it "Mom's Involvement Center." He's going to banish me there with only my appointment book for company.

I need to learn that finding the treasure sometimes means not running for P.T.A. president, social chairman of the gardening club, and "Woman of the Year" all in the same week. Sometimes it means leaving the cobwebs in the corner for just one more day and sometimes it means hot dogs for dinner instead of eggplant-pecan curry.

I need all the help I can get on treasure hunts. My children remind me of treasures I might otherwise overlook. My grandfather's fondest memories hold clues to where the best treasures are. So all of you are invited to share any particular treasure of the mind, spirit, or physical realm that brings you joy. The treasures are here, all around us. Dorothy had it right when she said, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."

Let the treasure hunt begin.

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