I don’t always travel with my necklace, Transforming Raven, but when I do take it along, I wear it. The safest way to transport it, right? A few months ago after visiting my 94-year-old mother in Kentucky I touched my neck when I arrived in the St. Louis airport, and my heart sank. Transforming Raven wasn’t there!
My heart beating entirely too fast, I rushed back to the airline desk and saw that the plane was still on the tarmac. Would you please ask James, the pilot, to look for my necklace. It didn’t take long because I’d been the only passenger. A few minutes later, the bad news: nothing. I phoned the Owensboro airport, and waited while the manager checked all six seats in the waiting area, then talked to the person at the boarding gate. Sorry, ma’am. My brother checked the backseat of his car, kicked around the snow in his driveway, inspected the garage, the bedroom where I’d slept, and then did it all again. Nothing.
Many years ago when I lost a computer my husband Michael told me, ‘It’s a thing. We replace things.’ He’s right, of course, but this was a very special thing. It had been an auction item at the first Raven’s Feast we attended at the Bill Reid Gallery. It called out to me the moment I saw it, and when the bidding got hot, Michael stayed in the battle, so it came home with us that night. It never lived in a box or on a shelf, but next to the bathroom mirror where I could see it every morning.
I loved touching it, feeling the silver grow as warm as my body. It had a particular sound, too, a result of the hollow casting technique that its talented creator, Morgan Asoyuf, used. I often ran my fingers over the carving, around the edge of the aquamarine stone, the lovely curve of the surface. I loved the secrets that Morgan had hidden in it--the pendant carved on both sides, and at the end of the chain behind my neck, a pinpoint blue topaz. It always brought back memories of the festive night we bought it.
It was only the second piece of First Nations art we’d purchased, and the first for ourselves. A few months earlier we were both so moved by a tiny basket woven by Meghann O’Brien that we bought it for the Gallery, but this spectacular work lived with us daily.
Don’t give up, I counseled myself. I reasoned that if people find lost pets, I could find Transforming Raven. It still exists somewhere in the universe, and I was determined to do everything I could to help it find its way back to me. I called the airport again, made a poster with a photograph offering a reward. I began to plot a social media campaign, drafted an article for the Owensboro newspaper. I considered how to appeal to someone who had picked it up, stuck it in their pocket. My worst fear was that it had been found by someone flying out of the airport who would never see any publicity.
Despair won’t help, I repeated to myself. Keep moving forward.
Friday morning, two long days after the loss, the phone rang. It was Cameron, the airport manager, who said that my necklace was on his desk. How? It had fallen into a snow bank as I climbed out of my brother’s car, and, eventually, a plow had turned it up. Cameron spotted it. I was eager to see it again. Can you send me a photograph? A few minutes later two pictures arrived because, bless his heart, he photographed both sides. There’s a scuff along one edge, maybe the chain is damaged, it now carries the story of its adventure. The next day, my brother picked it up, and it’s secure in his hands. I’m thinking a safety clasp. Raven has returned.
Dianna Waggoner is a Gallery Member and Supporter