The Wooden Frog

I’m on vacation this week staying at one of my favorite places right on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, Star of the Sea. We have stayed here many times over the past five years or so, and I always look forward to returning.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a skeeball junkie. I love old-fashion arcades, and Rehoboth beach happens to be the home of one of my all-time favorite arcades.

Now for the real story.

Every year we’ve come to Star of the Sea, there’s been a wooden frog in the lobby leading out to the boardwalk. The first time we stayed, we discovered through mere curiosity that the wooden frog was hollow and you could remove his top to reveal a shallow bowl. It was empty, and it gave me an idea; I decided to leave something in the frog as a gift for the next curious explorer, most likely a child.

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My first thought was a treasure map leading to a small buried/hidden treasure, but later decided that wasn’t a practical thing as the bearer of the map might not be the first to discover the stash. I opted instead to leave arcade tickets.

Such a gift was utterly within my character, as my arcade winnings are rarely if ever, redeemed for prizes. It is my tradition to give the tickets away to a child before leaving the arcade. It’s actually my favorite part of going to the arcade; getting to see a child’s face light up when they realize that I’m gifting them my tickets.

Ever since that first year, upon our arrival at Star of the Sea, we’ve checked the frog to see what loot others may have stashed there. I’m reasonably sure that each time we’ve found something in the frog. Always some sort of anonymous gift.

This year, we discovered several pieces of what appears to be play money and various other items.

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We discovered a little note card sitting next to the frog simply saying, “Take one, leave one.” Perhaps management or the cleaning service have clued in on the game their patrons like to play.

Our trip to the arcade this morning has now supplied our newest contribution to the wooden frog. A ticket slip from the arcade will be found by the next set of curious little fingers to explore the frog in the lobby.

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I have no idea if we were the first to begin what has become this tradition of paying it forward, but to those who continue to participate, I thank you. It’s nice to see that there are still small treasures in this world to be found if you are curious enough to go looking.

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The Gate

 

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The gate is open; won’t you come in?
It beckons as you pass, enticing in its mystery.
Whispering your name, you wonder how it knows.

Curiosity tugs at the hem of your skirt
a small child, wanting for attention
leading you by the hand to show you.

Crossing the threshold bears a sense of significance
though you know not why; like stepping beyond the walls of a city
you once thought you knew so well into a new hidden recess.
Your heart skips a beat, excited by adventure, it knows no fear.

A chill rushing down your spine
tiny fragments of movement
skirt the periphery of your vision.

With rapt focus and attention
tiny webs made visible by grace
of moonlight shining
sing sweetly to your memory,
a forgotten lullaby perhaps?

These webs, no ordinary orb weavers’ dream;
made of crystalline shimmers
mesmerizing and ghostly
as they dance with the breeze.

As the gate creaks closed behind,
much as you knew it would,
you wonder if you’ll ever leave.
Somewhere in the darkness, a voice
answers the thought with an echo, “if you so wish.”

Stepping forward, gazing steadily
ahead, the newly cleared path
lined with trees branches out
in the leaf-strewn distance.

Knowing only that you are meant
to follow this trail,
you reach behind you
to lock the gate.