As I walk along the beach, I once again find myself looking for treasures. I’ve always had a hankering to find a precious item of some sort. I think my Grandmother kindled my treasure hunting bug by regularly mailing me Annuals for Girls from England, starting when I was around 6 years old. They’re still in my bookcase in various states of disrepair.
The stories were full of mystery and intrigue and most often a treasure of some sort appeared by the end of the tale. My favourite stories had illustrations rendered in pen and ink, in a graphic book style with exquisite details. The pictures definitely contributed to my love of pen and ink drawing.
Enid Blyton’s, “The Treasure Hunters” had a considerable impact on me, and my friends and I spent many hours outside happily acting out the story. Blyton’s storybook characters managed to save their Grandparents’ house from being sold when they found a wonderful, forgotten, stone gazebo deep in the woods as well as the amazing Grey’s Treasure.
Author and illustrator,Barbara C. Freeman, illustrated the book.
Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book is another favorite and the image of Mowgli, Kaa and the white cobra protecting the King’s Treasure provided lavish fodder for my imagination. The illustrator of my 1955 version and the image below, was Stuart Tresilian. I’ve read that artist, J. Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard’s father”, illustrated the original version. The illustrations in my book are captivating compared to modern Disney Jungle book drawings.
Kipling’s description for the image below… “There were gold pieces,
“There were gold pieces, jeweled elephant-howdahs of embossed silver, studded with plates of hammered gold, and adorned with carbuncles and turquoises … there were jade cups and bracelets; there were incense-burners, combs, and pots for perfume, henna, and eye-powder, all in embossed gold; there were nose-rings, armlets, head-bands, finger-rings, and girdles past any counting; there were belts, seven fingers broad, of square-cut diamonds and rubies, and wooden boxes, trebly clamped with iron, from which the wood had fallen away in powder, showing the pile of uncut star-sapphires, opals, cat’s-eyes, sapphires, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and garnets within…”
As I kick the sand with my toe back at the beach, dislodging driftwood and seaweed, I’m aware that I’m looking down. Perhaps the sand shifted with the last tide and a corner of a locked box will reveal itself, maybe the shiny black of an old arrow head will catch my eye.
I stop and shut my eyes, smell the deep ocean fragrance, feel the wind on my face and hands and appreciate the riches that are all around me. Opening my eyes, I soak in the rolling expanse of blue, the sparkle of wet shells, the intense shiny, green seaweed and pebbles strewn where the waves have dropped them. I’m grateful for this moment, and the next. I breathe and receive the gifts that are right in front of me.