By CHRISTINE TAILER
This story is not about the creek, or the animals, or anything at all about the valley we call home. It is about people – all different sorts of wonderful, yet different people. I had been planning a gathering, a family rendezvous, in the city some know as the Big Apple.
Even though I had been born and raised in that city and knew some of its secret treasures, I had never known why it was referred to as a large fruit. So, as Greg drove east through the mountains and across the continental divide, I researched, with the occasional service from ridge-top towers, and learned that the city’s long ago horse handlers would refer to winning the “big apple” at the end of the thoroughbred races, and that the name had caught on and stayed.
But why were we holding the rendezvous at this time of year, and so far from the creek? This was my reasoning. Our children and grandchildren live far and wide, from east coast to west, and it seems so hard to gather them together, much less at the traditional times of the year. With cousins and family still in the city, and with several east coast children and
grandchildren, the city seemed a good place for the rendezvous.
We have made the trip often and we have found many special spots to stop off along the way. One of my favorite stops is in the mountain town of Pennsboro. Years ago, we pulled off down a side road and discovered an elderly man who made beautiful glass marbles. He has since passed away, but he made certain to teach his two sons how to make the beautiful glass spheres, and now when we drive east, we time our trip so that we can stop
off and add a few more marbles to our collection.
So we turned off the main road and headed through the familiar town, and as soon as we stopped, I eagerly got out of the car, walked up the front steps and into the small, comfortable shop. We picked up countless marbles, each more beautiful than the last, and finally settled on our purchases. On our way out, I paused to photograph the old train station across the street, beautiful on a gray day in its faded, though once brilliant, colors.
We continued on our drive east, stopping off to refuel on the other side of the mountains, and as I reached for my wallet, I suddenly realized that I did not have it. Had I left it on the marble shop counter, or at the old station?
After a frantic search of the car, we knew that it had to be somewhere back in Pennsboro. I reached in to the back seat of the car and looked in the marble bag. I pulled out the marble maker’s receipt and called the number at the top of the small paper.
I explained the situation to the marble maker, and as we talked, I could tell that he was looking around his shop, and then I could hear that he was taking the phone outside and was walking through the rain, across to the old train station, and then he told me “Yes!”
I had put my wallet down as I took pictures of the old building. He had found it. I was relieved and thankful, but still felt my heart riding high in my throat as we made our way back through the mountains. He waited past closing time.
I ran through the rain and back into the shop, sputtering profuse thanks, and we resumed our trip east. My heart was full. The man who creates the beautiful marbles had quite literally saved our Big Apple rendezvous.
So, at the rendezvous dinner, with close to 30 of us gathered around the table, I passed around egg cartons filled with the marble maker’s beautiful creations.
Each one of us chose a favorite, and then at my command, and with their exclamations of surprise, they passed the marbles three people to the right, to trade, or tuck away in their pockets or purses to carry home, or to perhaps give away to someone else.
The beautiful glass spheres have somehow always reminded me that people really are so very special, and now more so than ever.
Christine Tailer is an attorney who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.