~ A [mostly] true tale of turquoise and intrigue ~
The year was 1903 and she was on the run. She had wrapped a black scarf over her long braids, the edges pulled close around the contours of her face. In the deep pockets of her stolen sailor pants were crammed every possession she could call her own; both honestly earned and pick-pocketed with nimble fingers. Her feet were bare, calloused, browned, and she swung her legs with a man’s stride. She skirted the edge of the river, avoiding the thorny berry brushes trailing water, listening for dogs and the sounds of pursuit.
But the night was silent aside from the occasional slap of the current on deadwood snags. As the moon rose higher, she began to breath a little freer, her heart beating a little slower.
She needed a place to rest but more importantly, a place to hide. A place to bury the treasures wrapped tightly in her pockets, a place she could find again once the coast was clear, after her face was forgotten by the local vigilantes. A place she could leave the Box.
The Box held both the reason for her run and the hopes for her future. The label was already peeling away from the sliding lid, but the wood was still deeply scented with cigars. Inside, bundled in a length of buckskin, was the turquoise. Big, beautiful hunks colored like the waters she sailed in the South Pacific, tiny, delicate slivers whose intensity was rivaled only by the most exotic of butterflies, some clear and flat like a morning sky, others speckled with ebony veins. But every single one a beauty. She hadn’t meant to steal them, but when the color caught her eye, she couldn’t look away. That rare and luscious color was worth a small fortune, enough to buy a horse, food to fill a knapsack, and enough silver to hide in brand new boot heels when she rode North.
She was hungry, two days on the run hungry. As the moon began to dip behind the treeline she found the spot. Two young cottonwoods, slanting away from each other like shy lovers, formed a perfect V, framing the pre-dawn moon. She worked quickly, hands digging in the soft soil at their base, until the hole was twice the depth of her precious cargo. Hesitating momentarily, she buried the box and said a quick prayer into the night, more concerned with the safety of her glowing turquoise than with her person. And with that, she slipped away on muffled toes under the cover of an inky sky.
It was 2009 and my parents were welcoming the dawn song from the hulls of two forest green kayaks. They had paddled upstream, as was their routine, while the air still held the chill of night, before the beavers could be heard slapping tails and splashing at the river’s edge. The sunrise was thick with golden light and the flashing of the sky on silky currents. As they turned their kayaks midstream, to float easily with the river, an angular shape caught their eyes. A worn wood box, water stained and sun faded, was lodged at the base of one, or was it two, mighty cottonwoods. With a bit of work they managed to paddle close, fighting off brambles and snags, leaning perilously far out, working the edges of the box with fingertips until they could pry it loose.
And inside, well, that part of the story you’ve already heard.
And that's the honest truth. A glorious host of turquoise cabochons truly were wrapped tight in leather and a cigar box and plucked from the muddy banks of the Mokelumne River by my parents.
They contain more magic, more history, more story than can be quantified by my simple prose.
I've set them simply, oxidized them lightly. Four pairs, one traveling to my mother (as she was the one to find the stones and deserves to wear this magic on her lobes), the other three I offer to you. You'll find them in the shop momentarily...
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And on that note:
Happy Friday to you ALL! May your weekends be filled with swashbuckling tales!
~ Umber ~