Today is a very sad day.

My dear friend and former co-worker died this morning.

It’s a day awash with tears, and the drenching rain (2.60 inches since it started early Friday morning) mirrors the tears.  The skies are weeping because the earth misses Mary’s presence already.  The heavens may be rejoicing, but the earth weeps.

Because I spent most of the outdoor time today mourning, shall we return to yesterday?

Scot, Karen, Keely and I decided to try the fine sport of letterboxing.  It’s a pastime (like geocaching which is apparently done with the aid of a GPS) where you follow Internet clues to discover a waterproof box hidden in nature.  An on-line friend suggested that I try letterboxing ‘way back last spring when she first read this blog.  Because the only hidden treasure in Baraga County was posted at the Canyon Falls, way out of my usual path of travel, I decided to wait before following the clues.

Yesterday’s trip with family proved to be the most opportune moment.  We put Keely in charge.

Keely and Karen study the clues

Keely and Karen study the clues

Here is the website you can visit to learn all about letterboxing, and perhaps discover hidden treasure near you:  http://www.letterboxing.org/

This box was hidden by someone called The Dragon back on July 11, 2003.  Here is the website where you can see all the clues we followed, attempting to find the hidden box:  http://www.mathdragon.net/letterboxing/MI_boxes/canyon_falls.htm

The first of the clues read:

Trail end.

View falls.

Head back.

Bench to left.

The infamous bench

The infamous bench

The clues continue:

Tree with roots showing on the left.

Roots.  Don't you love them when they're exposed?

Roots. Don't you love them when they're exposed?

It continues:

First boardwalk.

Second boardwalk.

One of the many boardwalks

One of the many boardwalks

I won’t lead you through all the clues, but we followed them diligently, aiming for the hidden letterbox at the end.  Finally we reached the last clues:

Right 15 paces to giant log.

(Lying parallel to the board – perpendicular to the boardwalk)

Crevice in the top of the giant log

Under a fallen tree and leaves and twigs.

Let me tell you, this was the hardest three minutes of the treasure hunt!  We looked.  And looked some more.  And still couldn’t quite locate the box.  There was no way we were going to leave without finding it!  And finally, yes, digging under a few leaves…there it was in its camouflage.

The box itself

The box itself

We opened the box to discover some more instructions:

The first note in the box

The first note in the box

However, the best was yet to come!  You open the little index-card book and there are all the people (most who stamped the book with their special rubber stamps of perhaps an evergreen tree, or a wild bear, or a dazzling sun) with their hometowns and some penned words of interest or wisdom or fun.

The little notebook which reveals the winners of the treasure hunt

The little notebook which reveals the winners of the treasure hunt

I had brought some colored ink and a set of tiny stamps, so we all added our names and a few words and a colorful stamp.  (I even put the address of this blog, just in case anyone might want to read our in-depth story about our day.)

It was such a fun time.  I discovered that there is one more letterbox somewhere in Baraga County, behind a local cemetery, and one day might decide to attempt to find it as well.

In the meantime I am thinking about death today.  And wondering about the “hidden treasure” which may have met Mary today.  While the rest of us are still on the path, following the boardwalks of life, looking at the roots and rocks and waterfalls. 

Blessings, dear friend, wherever you may be tonight.

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