How do you know when it is time? There is something within nature that seems to answer this, and it resonates in human beings for reasons I could not begin to explain. Moreover, it can resonate at the same time, en masse. It is something akin to the question of why geese gather to fly north or south in formation as if by some kind of invisible prompt. God only knows, literally.
I was looking at the ice patches disappear with a bit of a welcome thaw, one of those on and off days in March were the sun peeks out and the temperature seems to promise better things to come. It is at that time that I remember marbles at school.
Around this time of year, as soon as black spaces of asphalt started to emerge on the playground, it was time. As if by some invisible command, everyone would bring marbles to school on the same day. No one consulted anyone else, that this was the thing to do, which only made it more strange as a phenomenon. Strange and yet charming.
This impulse may be lost on the current generation who might look at marbles and scratch their heads wondering what the fuss might be about. You can find marbles in yard sales, antique stores, and flea markets. They are for those who appreciate the nostalgia attached, the mutuality of something so thoroughly enjoyed, together. In a world where a lot of interaction is spent staring at a small hand held device, this would be a hard one to explain. You have to have been there to get it.
The marbles were a thing. They were so much a thing that they were also disruptive. Teachers would confiscate them and over the course of a year would accumulate them in an enormous jar awaiting the completion of the school year. At year end, the jar of marbles was put to use as a math tool. Whoever could guess how many marbles were in the jar, won the lot. For us, it was the equivalent of winning the lotto.
The question still remains. How was it that everyone just knew when it was MARBLE TIME?
In Psalm 30:18-19 of the Bible, the author makes a comment about things of wonder.
“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”
Yes it is true that those four things would make you scratch your head and perhaps praise your maker that there are things beyond you that you may never figure out during the course of a lifetime.
I am inclined to think the author missed one. Marbles in spring, a thing of wonder, and still to this day, a phenomenon that for me has no rational explanation.