What would a fourteen-year-old boy do while wandering the woods alone, armed with a pocketknife and too much imagination?
Throw the pocketknife at an imaginary bear. Of course.
Unfortunately, the real--and open--pocketknife disappeared into the dried grasses covering the ground of a pass-through area in the woods. After searching fruitlessly for the knife, Nick decided he needed to call in his parents to help.
Perspective is thin on the ground when you're fourteen, and I applaud him for having the courage to tell us what he'd done and ask for help. A lot of kids would have gone to the grave without confessing something like this, but Nick both wanted his pocketknife back and knew that an open knife hidden on the ground could hurt someone. He's not the only kid to wander these woods.
After George had helped search for a while and found nothing, we decided to rent a metal detector. By coincidence, we live about two minutes from a store that sells them, and when I called to inquire about rentals, the employee told me I could have one for an hour at no charge.
I love small towns. He let me take that detector without leaving a name, number, or any proof at all that I would bring it back. I'm going to take him a plate of brownies as thanks.
In the woods, we searched. I swung the detector back and forth over dense, dormant vegetation, while George and Nick used rakes to clear the area. The detector occasionally beeped, and we would get excited, only to discover that George's rake had set it off.
As the hour came to a close, my arm was trembling, and George took the detector to sweep an area that clearly served as a path one last time. We would all feel better knowing the knife wasn't in that higher-traffic area.
Quite literally with one minute to go, the detector beeped again...and I bent down to uncover the knife, buried completely out of sight under flattened, matted, brown grass.
There was rejoicing throughout the kingdom! The evil bear was vanquished and the Magic Blade of Truth rescued from the wicked gnomes who had carried it off to their lair.
Okay. So the kid's not the only one who can get carried away by his imagination. Still, it was a happy moment.
When I returned the detector, the employee and his wife asked how our search went. I told them, and they shared with me stories of their last-minute finds. I suspect that, in the metal detector business, stories of loss and recovery are a kind of currency themselves, exchanged freely and generously with enthusiasm.
The employee asked how the knife was lost in the first place and chuckled when I told him.
"Boys will be boys," he said.
At least this boy did the right thing, no matter how embarrassing it was to confess and no matter how much trouble he might have faced. The bear might have been imaginary, but the heroic boy faced down his fears and did what needed to be done.
Thank you, God, for my boy, his imagination, his honesty, and happy endings.