I now own two walking sticks. They have sharp metal spikes at the bottom, and nice curved handles. One of them — the one my great-grandfather used as he hiked across Germany — has “Interlochen” carved into the shaft. I don’t know if he did that, during sunsets and sunrises, or if it came that way when he purchased it.
Both of them, both my great-grandfather’s walking stick and my grandmother’s walking stick, have little metal badges attached to the shaft every inch or so. He apparently hiked more places than my grandmother, because he has more badges. Each badge is a new town, or a new sight on the horizon. If I took the time, which I will, I could trace their paths from the top of the stick to the bottom through the mountains of Europe.
As my parents age, I receive more and more of such memorabilia — the diaper pins, Jarvis Wood’s yearly Special Delivery, and so on. I have a lot of objects in my life, but I’ve had very few that I felt protective of until now. Now I own objects that I couldn’t just let go of if need be. Not a bad feeling. But different.
My mother has a collection of walking sticks that she brought back from England, including one that has a flask for a wee dram in it. No sword canes, though, and nothing as cool as the badges.
I wonder whether Interlochen isn’t really Interlaken in Switzerland, on Lake Thun (near the Jungfrau, which is where the hiking association comes in).
Hm, as I squint at it more carefully, I think you’re right.