Along the monkey grass-lined sidewalk to our apartment's playground and under every rock in my grandmother's back yard.
Shelled magic. Pillbugs. Armadillidiidae. Roly polies.
Friendly little black bugs that fascinated me and entertained me in a way nothing that required batteries ever could. Nervous and squirrelly, at my discovery they'd curl into a perfect sphere and roll around in my hand like peas out of shell. Oh, how I'd love it when they felt safe enough to untuck and tickle their way to freedom.
If I knew it was a possibility, when asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I probably would have said an entomologist. How mysterious and scientific and important sounding. "I'm an entomologist," I'd tell you and I'd wear a white lab coat and horn-rimmed glasses and carry a magnifying glass in my pocket, because isn't that what scientists do for a living?
It didn't stop at roly polies, though, I unearthed an ant hill once and spooned them in a mayonnaise jar and watched them tunnel their way to no where. I was spellbound.
And lightning bugs, sweet mercy…lightning bugs! Summer wasn't summer til you caught two dozen, squished a few in the process, and had a jar full on your dresser–the most enchanting, magical nightlight known to man.
There are no pictures of my treasures. My childhood was before the invention of digital and cell cameras. The only images are those chiseled in imagination, maybe more visible because they're seen with the heart, not just the eyes.
Tonight I took a walk.
And on my walk I saw two geese, and then two more geese and their two-week old babies. And I saw a four-foot snake on a weathered old bridge, that I was sure was a copper head or rattler or pit viper or King Cobra, ready to strike and kill me, but my husband insisted it was a harmless corn snake. And I saw four dogs, one of which looked like a skunk and another I could've slipped in my pocket. And I saw the bones of a baby possum in the exact place I had seen him ten days ago, when he still had fur and eyes and a tail.
I wished I had my phone so I could take pictures of my finds, treasures unearthed on a neighborhood walk turned adventure-in-my-mind and portal to my youth. But then I was glad I didn't have it, so I could be present in those moments, and delight in simple things and capture images with my heart-eyes.
Forty years later, I'm still a fortune hunter.