Lanyard Bracelets and Beaded Necklaces

Written By: Charlotte  Sherwood

When I see it piled here like this—and this is just a small sample of all of it—nostalgia catches my throat and I feel a huge reluctance to get rid of any of the lanyard and bead necklaces and bracelets Lucas made when he was a little boy even though I have already chosen the choice pieces to keep, including the button necklace, the bead crocodile and my favorite—the lanyard he made out of dune grass from just outside the sliding glass doors of his childhood home in Sagaponack.

When he was five or six he had a school assignment to describe the street where he lived. Lucas wrote “On my street there is an ocean and a cornfield”.

John, the son of the next door farmer offered him a penny for every Canadian goose he chased off that field. It was a very large field and Lucas took the assignment very seriously. He would set off—determination in action—flapping his arms like wings, his feet flying up behind him, charging down the furrows towards the huge flock of grazing geese that seemed more like a herd. When they looked up and noticed that they were outflanked in their thousands by one small boy, they’d stop their guzzling and rummaging with their beaks, and begin to take off in a huge untidy mass of flapping wings, big feet and cacophonous goose noise—a great splotchy cloud of them—fashioning themselves into the chosen direction. There was no instant elegant v-formation. Something  extraordinary in the crush of the crowd stopped each goose from crashing into the next one until they did align themselves and fly as one. Sometimes they’d circle round and go over the dune and settle on the ocean for a communal float or they’d fly further afield, their noise diminishing as they made spectacular v-shaped ribbons across yet another sky that might not otherwise have been noticed. The geese would return but not immediately. Lucas would walk the long walk back triumphant, the dune to his right, his little body getting bigger the closer he came in the dark brown furrows half his size. He’d have the demeanor of a champion goose chaser who had just saved the farmer many cents worth of newly sewn seed.

I went down to Sagaponack today, just to look. On Lucas’ street the ocean remains but instead of the lazy road that went around the edge of the field to the small beach cottages nestling under the dune, the field has a road cut deep into it, a developer’s gash and Lucas’s childhood home has grown even bigger. Overhead I saw a wavy line of seven geese. It’s high summer. They’re supposed to be in Canada. Was their seasonal instinct messed up by pesticides like the Monarch butterflies we now so rarely see that used to visit the multicolored, paintbrush-like Portulaca on the deck at Sagaponack and lay their eggs on the milkweed? Perhaps the remaining geese were just wayward teenage males.

So finally I’m answering the question I so often asked myself back then “My darling Lucas, what on earth am I going to do with all this lanyard?” It’s a long time ago now—strings of moments when his whole being would be curled around the task of weaving strands of dune grass or plastic into patterned ribbons or his chubby left thumb and forefinger would hold a bead while his right hand would thread the string through it, every one of those above and many many more fingered by him before he’d come up from the beach or home from camp or just from his room in his childhood home in Sagaponack and say “I made this for you.”