"Ow! What in the world...?"
He stooped to pick up the offending object nearly embedded in his foot. As he turned the sharp little creature over in his hands, a warm smile crept onto his bearded face.
“Daddy? did you find my fuzzy hat for snow?” called a small voice from the next room.
The little elephant had been tucked away in the closet for many years now, out of sight and thought.. and now, feeling the smooth ivory charm, his memory was instantly transported to a warmer clime ....Kenya.
Such cherished memories those days spent on safari with the family. A boys trip, planned by dad and richly documented in various photo albums now scattered throughout the family. The consummate adventurer, dad was always planning a new experience, indulging his love of family and other cultures. Always joking and wearing a grin, the moment of dad’s “trade” came back to him clearly now.
The dark skinned young man was a hard worker, carrying their bags and asking what needs they had... dad noticed this and took a liking to him immediately. “Young man, that elephant charm you are wearing, tell me, what’s the story?” The young man turned shy then, lowering his head and fondling the necklace with a work-worn hand.
“From girl ...” was all he would say with a smile that told the rest of the story.
Dad beamed, pushed his glasses upward and settled into that familiar stance- with one open hand resting on his leg and the other pushing back his jacket with a fist at the hip, he chuckled, saying... “A sweet thing, huh? How did you meet her? I’ll bet I can do better....”
And with that, he reached deep into his pocket, pulling out one of his many improvised machines - a radio/recorder device, with earpieces made soft and light to rest gently on the ears. A rather innovative design, even for the 90s. “Wanna trade? I’ll bet you & your girl would enjoy the music...”
A burst of cold shot through the hallway, jarring his reminiscence. “Dad, are you coming?! the hill is so fast! I want to sled down next time with you... c’mon!”
Stroking his red beard, he tucked the little elephant into his jeans pocket. Grabbing his own coat and the bright fuzzy tuque, he hurried out of the house... “I’m on my way!
...by the way, did I ever tell you about the little ivory elephant your grandpa gave to me?”
*Lovingly dedicated to the memory of a true Renaissance Man, Dr. Lyle Blackwell.