It started with quotes. Funny ones, thoughtful ones, even slightly naughty ones, but always with a bit of wisdom tucked in somewhere. He saved the ones he liked in notebooks, even taking up calligraphy to really show them off.
He’d spent his entire working life in a mill, wrangling and sawing logs, so it was quite fitting when he retired that he began carving beautiful signs in wood, for businesses and people’s homes. Then the next thing we knew, he was pottering about with a woodburning pen adding some of his favourite quotes to bits of driftwood gathered at the city’s many beaches. He’d share them with family and friends, display them around his garden. Everybody loved them, but they were crowding out his workroom so he began taking them to craft fairs.
It wasn’t so much that he wanted or needed the money. He just loved sharing his Wood ‘n Wisdom, he called them, and chatting with people, watching their reactions to the words. He was careful to ensure his display catered to all ages and eye levels, but he especially loved the young ones.
“Can you write my name on one?” the young girl asked. “I can write whatever you want,” he replied. “How much are they?” she ventured. “Two bits,” he answered. “Oh,” she said, then got all quiet for a bit. “How much is two bits?” she finally blurted. Feeling his age only slightly, he replied with a grin, “Twenty-five cents.” With that she was off, then back in jig time, a quarter tucked into her tiny hand. He burnished her name on a piece of driftwood and they concluded their transaction. Not ten minutes later, she was back, three more youngsters in tow, each clutching their quarters very tightly. He loved it!
Walking the front, as his mum called it, to visit the beaches she took him to as a boy, he decided one day he’d start hiding a few of his Wood ‘n Wisdom each time he came. eHeHHe’d bury them in the stones or behind a log or under a bit of seaweed, imagining with delight some beach-walker or child finding them and puzzling over how a bit of wood drifted in from the sea could have words on it.
A few years ago he found a spare photocopy of his notebook of quotes. He carefully blacked out his name and phone number, sealed it in a plastic bag and took it to the front as well, hiding it behind a log, wondering how long before it was found and chuckling at the thought of who might find it. By the time he got home later that day, somebody had already called. They’d found the bag, figured out his phone number and told his wife, “Today of all days I really needed the wisdom of some of those quotes. Tell him thanks.”
He still hides his Wood ‘n Wisdom at the beach, still chuckles at the thought of his words heading out into the world carved on bits of driftwood from who-knows-where, still longs to catch sight of someone surprised and puzzled by their discovery. But mostly he simply trusts that each message finds its way at the right time and place to just the right person, the one whose heart his words were meant to touch.