Marbles are tiny glass memories for me. When my grandfather died and my grandmother had to sell their house... the one that he built with his two hands and only his two hands without the help of others... the house I had to turn down from owning... well the only thing I thought about seeking out was my marbles. I looked in my bedroom, as I stayed so often and for so long sometimes that I needed a room of my very own but they weren't there.
I kept my marbles in a little spring hinged brown box and they were special because of my grandfather. The television never entered our minds until evening at their house, so days were spent in my imagination and around their pond and some of it on the floor playing marbles with my grandfather.
It was one day while playing that he brought me into the kitchen with my marbles, I didn't know what he was doing and I can't remember if I asked a lot of questions... but being very visual and having a bit of a photographic memory I can now play snippets of the memory in my head like a recorded event. I watched him place the marbles into a frying pan while a glass of ice water sat next to it on the counter. Around the pan he swirled the marbles, slowly and patiently. Round and round they went as they heated up. Still I didn't know what he was doing but watched intently, excitedly.
When the marbles reached whatever point he felt was right he poured them into the ice water where I heard the unforgettable crackle sounds within each marble. Pouring them out and onto a towel, there they were transformed. My already beautiful marbles were even more so as the insides had crackled like an aged piece of wood.
Now if you end up doing this for yourself, please be advised that after the marbles are crackled they are no longer playable. The crackling is literally cracks in the glass... so if smashed or roughed around with they will break in half or into pieces. So I advise putting them in a shallow dish in a window sill where you can enjoy the sun shining through them like treasure.
The house sold, the attic routed by a local antiques dealer... everything gone including my marbles. Or so I assumed. From time to time I would think of my marbles, wonder where they were... missing them...Uuntil yesterday that is.
When I was younger and spending time at the grandparents, we also played a lot of mancala (this is where my marbles tie in). My first set was made by my dad, the second by my grandfather. For hours on end my mom and I would play the day away on the set my grandfather made. In a relationship where we often butted heads, this game found us getting along every time. I loved playing.
Yesterday my 5 year old came downstairs and says, "look mom, marbles!". I looked and sure enough yes there were marbles, but I hadn't bought any marbles for him or any of the children so I was perplexed. They looked old, not like the new cruddy marbles you get these days... further perplexed was I.
"Sammy where did you get those nice marbles?" I asked.
Sam being a great story teller replied "I found them in my dreams and kept them in my special place".
God I love that boy!
Later that day he pulled out the mancala game my grandfather crafted, and I realized quite quickly that Sam had lifted the marbles from the set. My marbles weren't lost at all but used as the playing pieces! That when it was made I had put my marbles into the set!
The marbles that my son found and were playing with were my marbles! The ones I had been missing!
It's funny how things come to you, and come back to you. Just when you think they're gone, there they are. And so... marbles always bring me back to my grandfather. When crackling some of my marbles with Sam yesterday I let him toddle the pan back and forth circling the heating marbles... he asked how I knew how to do it to which I replied, "My grandfather showed me, I'm showing you, and someday you can show your children, ok?"
He smiled... no answer needed.