So I guess at some point we totally forgot that they were just yard sticks. These things saved our lives. If you got into a bog (which we did) you just used your stick. If you needed to check out a creepy hole – used your stick. saw something weird – hit it with your stick. Cleared spider webs with your stick…etc! I mean, these things became an extension of us.

We kept them in the back of the work truck. Funny thing about work trucks. You WORK in them. We worked almost everyday. Funny thing about people in charge of our work trucks. They don’t WORK in the field. I actually got called out for leaves and twigs in the back of my work truck! REALLY!! Also, people insisted that we didn’t need the sticks in the back of the truck. What the hell did they know.

None of these are MINE!

Did they know that those sticks could have prevented near death experiences? Those sticks were part of our safety protocol. If someone waltzed away from the truck – I reminded them to get their stick. We began noticing them missing. We would get another stick. They got worn on the ends, made them easier on the hands when hiking. They became muddy. You could hardly read the numbers. They became loved! They became family. I even used red duct tape to soften the end of MINE because my wrists are old and tired.

Then, one day, the saddest thing happened. I can’t remember what I hit, but I hit something with my stick to make sure there wasn’t a booger monster in there. Safety first you know. My stick split…..oh my gosh. What was I gonna use now? I taped it up. Then I couldn’t measure. I had to do the only thing I knew to do – I had to start using a new stick. It was as if I was cheating on my spouse.

I couldn’t very well throw away my old stick. It still had uses. I hate throwing away useful things. What if I got stuck and needed just a little grip – it would be perfect. You are sitting there, shaking your head saying, “Jacque, you are nuts. It’s just a yard stick.” I am telling that you are a heartless and unfeeling dolt. That stick was my eyes, hands, legs, and it did more for me than any other tool I even owned. It had my name on it and the red tape. It was MINE.

I used the new stick. I never put my name on it. I never taped the end to make it softer. I used it. It never felt the same. It never went as many places as my stick. It never even really ever saved my life. I threw it in the back seat. I didn’t really remember it always.

One day, I grabbed MY stick when I got out of the truck – just out of habit. I walked into the woods with it and used it gently. It felt good, that old stick. It felt like mine. I never used the new stick again. I guess I feel safer with MINE. After all, it does have my name on it. I sit here writing, and I swear I am thinking that I hope no one threw it away.

I have been gone a month or so. A lot changes in that time. I hope MY stick is somewhere waiting for me to use it gently.

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