I purchased some clay marbles at a flea market last month. I couldn't help myself. It was wonderment at first sight. Years of play (they are from the Civil War era) has left them with such a beautiful patina. The earthen colors drew me in.
Holding them in my hands transported my imagination through time at the possibilities of ownership. Black and white images of children crowding around the ground, bent at the waist, some squatting to get a better view, watching, waiting for the shooter to act. Crack! The marbles slam into one another and the children stand and jump, arms in the air, hooting and hollaring. Their neighborhood marble champ has done it again!
Perhaps they have seen harder times as well. A soldier filling his pockets with the cold, orbital love notes. A gift from his sweetheart as he heads off to war. She knew they were a favorite game of his and she wanted him to have something with him that would make him smile, a good luck trinket he could rub if he were scared or lonely. Perhaps pull out for a game or two if given a chance.
A grandpa passing his beloved marbles down to his great-grandson proclaiming "I only had a few toys when I was your age. Money was scarce. We made do with our imaginations. But these." He looked longingly into the past, his smile growing youthful with the memory, "These were my treasure. Out of the few toys I had, my marbles were my favorite. I won quite a bit of money playing marbles! I was the town champ!"
Clay pulled from the earth, formed, glazed, fired. Through the years filled with memory. Worn away from hands of play. Kept in pockets, bags, drawers. Traveling around from owner to owner. Where did they come from? What stories do they have to tell? If you tracked them back to the ground from which they came, what would the earth say? Would it sigh a story of their birth?
There is something magical about old toys. Made with earthen elements. Wood, clay, metal. Holding amazing energy. All you have to do is hold them, close your eyes, and listen. They are little story tellers.