Treasure Hunting

Fire Station No. 4, Balboa Island. May, 2011
Seeking His Treasures Afoot on Balboa Island
After a somber morning of mourning on Memorial Day, my husband Rich and I set out on a treasure hunt in Newport Harbor. We’d visited the harbor countless times by boat. We knew the fuel dock, the sea lions shamelessly napping on sailboats, the silent slice of a kayaker’s paddle through salt water, the harbor excursion boat’s horn, the glamorous homes crowded shoulder to shoulder along the shore. 
This day, we would drive up the peninsula and cross over to Balboa Island on the ferry. Hearts heavy and camera ready, walking-close, we would seek to redeem this day by seeking His treasure–His glory. His creation.
We found it, in abundance.
This sign, white paint peeling on weathered plywood, stands simple, proclaiming its news.
 We pass the other ferry, carrying three cars, bicyclists, pedestrians, returning from our destination. It’s hopeful to see people returning from where we’re going. 
This man sits contented on a bench, enjoying the company of his two Pekinese. He stewards his companions, pushing them along in twin strollers.
 The oil and vinegar vendor bows as he offers us a taste of his pineapple white balsamic, pouring it out, an offering. His shop is his art, dressed like a stage, glistening with stainless jugs of olive oil, handmade pasta, pretty little stoneware dipping bowls, shaped like hearts, colored like laughter, green, yellow, red. His daughter bows as she wraps our selection in grass-green tissue, tucks it lovingly into a bag. 
History is parked at the firehouse. 
 Brass gleams. Someone polishes, polishes, defying the salt air.
Wooden spokes and an engraved hubcap sing of another era’s loving work.
The ice cream shop gathers a joyful throng to herself.
 An honor guard of flags stands its watch at the bridge, snapping to attention in the freshening breeze.
Sunshine finds a shrine locked behind an iron gate.
 A rowboat waits humbly on her mooring.
Beauty upon beauty: topiary and Adirondack chairs adorn a pier.
 Roses nod, heavy under the grace of their splendor.
We return to the car, our hearts lightened by the treasure we’ve collected: hope and beauty, love and grace, honor and joy, work that perseveres against the relentless press of corrosion, a man who defends his dogs’ feet against the sidewalk’s fire. 
God has provided an awesome display of His creation. We drive south along the coast, thinking we’re filled, that we’ve taken in all He has prepared for us this day.
We’re wrong. 
In the meadow at the end of our street He’s tucked one last treasure into the tall grass.

 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
4 To Him who alone does great wonders,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
5 To Him who made the heavens with skill,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
6 To Him who spread out the earth above the waters,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
7 To Him who made the great lights,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting:
8 The sun to rule by day,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting,
9 The moon and stars to rule by night,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 136:1-9

Today I am linking with Laura Boggess at The Wellspring for Playdates with God

And I’m linking with L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone for In, On, and Around Mondays from the redemptive place of this island walkabout.


  1. I like the treasure in the tall grass. And the sea lions shamelessly napping… 🙂

  2. Laura, I'm glad you enjoyed those sketches. 🙂

    Our deer are rare enough that they're a treat to see, rather than a garden-destroying nuisance.

    Those sea lions have been known to sink their sunbathing platforms:

  3. The man PUSHES his pets in a stroller?


    This was a fun vacay with you guys. 😉

  4. You always have such sweet adventures! These photos tell such the story. Beautiful, Sheila. Just beautiful. Nothing soothes the grief like the Hand that makes the beauty.

  5. Duane,
    He does! I'm not sure whether it's because the breed is prone to breathing problems (pushed-in faces are adorable, but…) or because he needs to be a caregiver.

  6. Laura,
    Thank you.

  7. Bradley J. Moore

    I think those latent surprises are always the best, aren't they?

    Love that photo of the deer above all the rest!

  8. Latent surprises. Yes!

    We do enjoy our neighborhood deer. 🙂

  9. Laura@OutnumberedMom

    Those pictures of the firehouse are so great! All the pictures were just lovely…I feel like I went along on your excursion. And that last treasure — lovely.

  10. Thank you, Laura, for stopping by and for your kind words.

    I wish I could have gotten a good candid of the firefighter, who sat in a corner of the station garage on a chair, passing out stickers to the children. I think he was having more fun than anyone. But he had excellent camera radar and went into an official, "I'm in uniform" attitude whenever I swung my lens his way.

  11. Love the pictures, especially the deer. Beautiful. We can never hope to match what God, in His great wisdom, has created.

  12. Thanks, Red. See? "Rural Southern California" really isn't an oxymoron!