X Marks the Spot

Written By: Madyson Gillanders

“Today is the day.” “Today is the day,” my father exclaimed as he returned from the attic with a compact box, and sprawled its contents onto the marble coffee table, among our unfinished plates of scrambled eggs and turkey bacon. I reached for the small folded square of paper first, placing my orange juice cup at one end and my fathers coffee cup at the other to keep it from unraveling. I studied the map my father and I had once created, tracing the outline of the curved treasure path with my fingers. “Dad. Will we ever find the treasure?” I asked, as I listened to the steady patter of raindrops that formed myriads of patterns on the large bay window. My father beamed, as he collected the ponchos and compasses that were still spread out on the table. He knelt down next to me, as he slowly tucked a small thermos and a granola bar into his jacket. “Madyson, even if we don’t find the treasure, making the memory is a treasure in itself,” he whispered as he fastened the buckles on my slick black rain boots, and slowly zipped up my raincoat that was two sizes two big. “Ready?” “Ready,” I smiled as I grabbed the tattered map, and my fathers hand.

We drove to Money Pond as quickly as our two thousand one forest green Volkswagen station wagon could get us there. For the duration of the ride, I sat with my cheek pressed up against the window, watching the small street roads disappear and the long winding roads move into view. We settled the car into a cozy parking spot across from the hiking trail, and I hurriedly tucked the map into my pocket, now clutching the compass my father had handed me between my fingers. Slowly, my father and I started on the trail, as the raindrops splattered onto us from above. We trudged through

the thick layers of mud beneath us, continuing towards the pond. I gripped the compass, occasionally calling out the direction we were headed, even though I never really knew which direction we were going in. The thick air coated my lungs, as I followed my dad on the winding trail. We stopped for a small break every once in a while, where we would break a fruit and nut granola bar in half and alternate sips from the thermos. As we continued, my father hoisted me onto his shoulders. It felt as if it had been hours, when I called out that we had made it to the treasure, upon spotting a small pond. My father lifted me off his shoulders, and watched as I darted over to the pond. “Daddy! Look, we made it to the treasure!” I squealed. Throngs of tall grass surrounded the outskirts of the pond, and the buzzes and chirps of small animals astounded me, as I began to frantically dig holes in the ground. I dug fifteen holes, and the only thing I had uncovered was a roly poly and a twig. “Daddy, I don’t think I will find the treasure,” I said as I traced a circle in the mud with my newly discovered twig, and looked up at my father.” Look at all the fun we had together. That’s a treasure in itself.” I nodded as I fell into my dads arms for the remainder of the hike back to the car.

There is the legend of Captain Kidd treasure at Money Pond, but it’s not likely that anyone will ever find it. My father and I poured over book after book, as we researched the supposed treasure, and crafted our perfect “treasure map”. We waited for a rainy day, so we could finally put our map to use, and hike to the pond where the treasure was located. My father knew that we wouldn’t find the treasure. He also knew that we wouldn’t make it to the real Money Pond, and he still tells me today that we in fact stumbled upon a small swamp, almost two miles away from the actual pond. That day my dad got to play along with me, as he put together our entire

adventure based on a treasure chest that may not even exist. While my father demonstrated to me that day the lengths he would go to in order to create a memory for me, he also allowed me to explore all the whimsy that the East End has to offer.

Growing up in Bayport, a small town nestled smack dab in the middle of Long Island, everything was done with rules in mind, even play. You had to work hard, and play little in Bayport. There were no spur of the moment treasure hunts, or sporadic trips to the beach there. In Montauk, it was exactly the opposite. You played, and then worked. There were days spent in town or at the lighthouse. Nights were filled with a double scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream from John’s Drive In, and walks on the beach; even if it was pitch black. Searching for Captain Kidd’s treasure is just one of the many adventures I have had with my father. Every trip we have taken to Montauk, whether it was week at our summer home or just for the day, he has managed to uncover a new, magical piece of Montauk for me. As I have grown up, I have began to explore and adventure myself, finding my own pieces. And my own treasure.