“Well, that was the strangest thing,” he said.
“It’s gonna snow,” she said.
“The old hermit told me that I would find it there,” he said.
“We could get five to eight inches,” she said.
“Who said that it’s gonna snow? In August?” he asked, emphasizing August.
“What did the old hermit say?” she asked.
“He said that it would be there, but I didn’t believe him,” he said.
“The Old Fred’s Almanac, and our weather stick is pointing to the ground. It always snows when our weather stick is pointing to the ground,” she said.
“Did you go where the old hermit told you to go?” She asked.
“That’s only in the winter,” he said.
Then he told her that he did go where he was told, and that he found it exactly where the old hermit said that it would be. The oddest thing, finding a trap door in the base of a large oak tree, but, the old hermit said that it would be there, so he wasn’t completely surprised. It was not like he came upon the trap door unawares. Then he looked out of the window for the snow.
An August snowstorm would be a surprise, but he always believed whatever she told him. Still, he doubted that she would believe him about what he had found behind the trap door in the large oak tree. Their relationship was like that, she always found him to be hard to believe, and he always believed her implicitly.
“I can see the storm clouds forming over the lake,” he told her from the window. “Five to eight inches, you say?”
“What did you find?” she asked him.
“A trap door in a large oak tree,” he told her.
“Is the snow blower gassed up? Did you open the trap door?” she asked him in the order of urgency measured by her usual disbelief.
“Yes, I’m pretty sure,” he said, hearing only her first question, his mind being elsewhere.
“And?” she suspiciously pressed him about the trap door.
He told her that he opened the trap door, which he had to jimmy with his knife, and that he then stuck his head inside of the hollow of the large oak tree. In the dim light of the cloudy day he could see a small wooden chest with brass straps and a brass lock with a hole for a large key. He thought that he might carry the chest away, but it was too heavy for him to lift in the awkward position that he was in, lying on the ground with his head inside of the tree, and just room enough to insert only one arm.
“Must be a fairy’s treasure, or maybe elves,” she hazarded a guess.
“Perhaps,” he said, adding, “but, fairies usually lock the trap door, and this door was unlocked, although it was stuck pretty good.”
“So, then it was elves. Maybe they meant for you to find the chest,” she teasingly suggested.
“Well,” he said, “If you don’t believe me, you can go with me tomorrow morning.”
“It’s gonna snow,” she said.
The next morning there were eight inches of August snow on the ground, and they had to clear the driveway before they could leave. Then, they had to snowshoe a mile or so before they reached the large oak. By that time, the snow had melted in the heat of the August afternoon.
Again he had to jimmy the trap door with his knife. She insisted on being the first to look inside the hollow of the oak. To her disbelief she saw the chest, just as he had described it to her. She inserted her arm, but she likewise was unable to dislodge the chest.
“Here,” he said, “let me.” She moved aside, and before he dropped down he produced a large skeleton key and showed it to her. “Where did you get that?” She asked him. “I found it at a flea market a while ago, and I’ve been saving it for just this occasion,” he told her.
He got down and reached inside the oak and inserted the key in the lock. The top of the chest sprung open. He stuck in his hand and said, “Oh ho!” “What?” she said. “What did you find?”
“Cookies,” he said gleefully. “Chocolate chip cookies!”
He pulled out a handful of the cookies and they sat beneath the tree and ate to their heart’s content in the warmth of the August sun.