I like old things. Things with history, things that were touched by other hands at different times on this earth. I thought about other things I’ve found and kept as I dug outside in our garden today. I kicked the shovel into the dirt again and again – a thick clay that dries as hard as cement in the heat of the summers. It’s a problem for us because we want a yard full of green grass…which has been beautiful in the spring, but once the summer sun hits, we lose it all. So we’re redoing it this year with a different type of grass and hoping that it’ll withstand August. Even though we’ve added topsoil over the past few seasons, it’s still tough to get through the packed-in earth.
The sand and clay are mixed with broken pieces of terracotta and shards of glass – some from bottles, other pieces we aren’t sure from what. When they were building our house, they found the jaw of a cow. Today, I found a rusted nail the length of my hand and what seems like part of a hinge. Then a teal blue came up in the mess – perfectly round. I picked it up and realized it was an old coin.
A few hours later, it’s been sitting in water and dish soap on my counter and we’ve made it out to be a 10 cent Italian coin from the 1920s. We’ll have to wait until it’s fully cleaned to know for sure, but it’s looking like there’s a bee on it – which would mean it was from 1928.
I wonder who dropped it and decided it wasn’t worth picking up. Or if that was even the case. It was a new coin twenty years before my mother in law was born, and a few less when she lived just on the other side of the rooftops that rose up above our garden. Was it taken on the road from Bologna? Was it given to a farmer who had cows in the area? Was it held by someone who saw the old walls of Florence while they still stood, sixty-three years before?
Today I dug it up out of the ground and now it’s in an espresso cup on my counter. I can’t wait to bring it into one of the little coin shops in the center – and maybe learn some of its secrets.