I was going to follow up last week’s blog with fifteen more worthy maritime organizations you might be interested in joining to help save the oceans, but as you no doubt know by now, South Carolina has been inundated with torrential rains that have had widespread consequences. None of them good. In fact, most schools in South Carolina were closed from Tuesday through Friday presumably because of flooding even though many are nowhere near a flood zone.
I find this cruelly ironic since those four days were knock dead gorgeous with sunshine from sunrise to sunset. Given the fact that many of the past ten or eleven days were filled with forecasts of heavy rains, thunderstorms, or clouds.
And while the historic rains had no good consequences, the fact is they did bring two blessings to me. With my daughter and son-in-law preoccupied with their jobs, my grandchildren Luke and Nora had nowhere to go. So for three afternoons, my wife and I harbored them in our house. And what a particular harbor it was. I think Jimmy Buffett would be proud.
One day we played the afternoon away on a weight bench that served as a pirate ship much as it has for the past four years. With plenty of pirate swords, hats, a real compass, and several treasure chests, there was booty aplenty to plunder.
But the best day was Thursday. No pirate ship that day. Captain Bill had something else planned. He hooked them young scalawags with a treasure hunt. Well, it wasn’t really a treasure hunt. The truth be told we was burying treasure, we was! On me special island in the back of me secret hideout.
But you can’t bury treasure without something to bury. So we rifled through me boxes and drawers filled with all kinds of treasures. If me memory serves me right, there was a small moon, an oversized coin of Florida, a coin with skull and crossbones on one side and a genuine pirate ship on the other. Me grandson threw in some jewels, the likes of which no pirate has ever seen. Rubies, emeralds, and more coins.
And so there we was, mates, two young pirates and this old salt, slipping out our secret door and into the unknown wild. Me grandson with a chest loaded with booty in one hand, his pirate sword in the other; me granddaughter with a treasure map tight in her fist and a pen in the other because what good is burying treasure if ye don’t know where ye hid it?
First stop was a secret cove where shovels and other instruments of piracy were secured. Then off we went to recon the best hiding place. “Right there!” my grandson exclaimed. “Aye, we could bury it there,” says I, “but everybody could be watching us. Then what? We come back next week and it’ll be gone!”
So through thick sea grasses, taller than the tallest pirates in Murrells Inlet, we went. Past palm trees and flamingoes keeping a keen watch, we crept. We stopped at one hidden cove where a bench sat hidden by dense brush. Obviously, used by pirates to gather after many a voyage. “How about here?” says I. Both scalawags shook their head. Several stops evoked the same head wagging.
“Over there,” says Luke, pointing beyond a palm tree that towered to the sky. And he pointed to the thicket of sea grass we passed the first time. “Yeah,” Nora shouted, nodding her head. “All right, mates. But we gotta be quiet. There’s eyes all around us.” And carefully we made our way through the wilderness again.
“But how do we get in there?” asked the smallest pirate, our way blocked by thick strands of reeds arching in all directions. With the most valuable tool a pirate could carry, I slipped me shovel out and parted the reeds. Quietly and quickly, we slipped into the shaded cove.
“And where do ye think we should dig?” I asked. Luke pointed to the ground at his feet. “There!” he said, grasping the treasure close to his chest. “Aye, there it will be!” says I and Nora nodded. With a mighty thrust, I plunged the shovel into the ground. It vibrated as it bounced back at me. The root it hit was hard, harder than the heart of the hardest pirate.
Says I, “Pick another spot!” and the young pirate pointed to a spot three feet away. This time the shovel slipped into the ground like a pirate sword going through gummy bears. After a shovelful or two, I realized I be’s the only one digging. I read lots of pirate books and I knows what happens to the man who digs the hole. And it’s not a pretty sight when he be the one lining the hole with his body, and a chest on top. So says I, “Your turn,” and Luke took the shovel and dug his share.
“Your turn, Nora,” says I. And I took the map from Nora as the shovel scraped more of the dirt from the hole.
“Put it in,” says I. And Luke placed our treasure chest… well, it was more like a jar with a blue cap tightly sealed… into the hole. “Okay,” says Luke, “let’s cover it up.”
“Not so fast,” says I. “We need to mark everything out on the map.” And with me guidance, Nora drew a palm tree, then a flag pole flying the Conch Republic flag, and the house we snuck from, and another flagpole flying the Jolly Roger. She put the final touch to everything with the flourish of a large X. In fact, we added two more X’s, just to confuse someone who got their one good hand on our map.
When everything was just so on our chart, I gave the nod, and we pirates finished our work. “I see the dog house over there,” says Luke. “He might be watchin’ us.” “We need be covering the hole with lots of dirt and then some leaves so no one but us knows where it is,” says I.
And so it was that three pirates buried the best treasure of their lives on a warm autumn day, with rivers all around us on the rise. The treasure sits somewhere out in the dark tonight, but the secret of those three pirates remains safe.
There’s a number of lessons in this pirate tale… some of which will elude you. But I best be guessing you’ll learn the most important. When ye got two young pirates and a sunny afternoon, the best treasure any pirate can have is to share it with the littlest of scalawags.
So here’s to pirates, and rivers and floods, and buried treasure wherever it lies. May ye always know sometimes the best treasure is buried in the hearts of children.