It’s a simple tale of a simpler time. For what happy childhood isn’t simpler?
I was on vacation with my family- two younger sisters and my mom and dad- in the Okanogan, the desert-interior portion of beautiful British Columbia. We stayed in a hotel right on the shore of Skaha Lake, the lake which connects via mysterious underground tunnels to Okanogan Lake itself, where the Ogopogo lives.
My daily activities included things like making mud pies in the shallows of the lake, chasing small fish, and bouncing on the hotel’s trampoline.
My sisters and I had a grand old time, sharing the occasional soda from a vending machine right outside our room.
The sodas came in glass bottles (not that I’m *that* old- this was a place that was slow to change, and the vending machine was quaint, even to me then, so young), with- you guessed it, bottle caps.
The machine hummed quietly as we picked out our preferred flavours, lake water dripping off of us and onto the hot concrete below, where it dried before we could make our decision. When we finally did choose, often the bottle would be held against our foreheads for a moment, just to feel that crisp cold on baking skin, a reminder that the cool lake was only steps away.
But the sugary elixir couldn’t be ignored for long; we’d stick the tops into the slot of the vending machine and give a little pull and *pftz!* the bottle cap would pop off and with a *clink!* it would fall into the machine, into a bunch of other such discarded bottle caps.
It wasn’t long into the trip when the mystique of the bottle caps inside the machine lured me away from the lake.
I couldn’t find a way to open the soda without the machine, to retain my bottle cap, and the opening to where they were held was smaller than would fit my hand.
If only I had someone smaller who could jam their arm in there and-
Wait, *two* little sisters you say? Why yes, one of them *was* old enough to understand what great caper I was planning.
She agreed, provided she got a cut of the profits.
Her tiny hand slid into the hole and she stretched and we heard the delightful *clinking* of caps as she fished around inside the machine.
Handful by handful, she pulled out bottle caps of every kind. Bottle caps that were even from sodas that weren’t stocked in the machine. Bottle caps that were perfect, bottle caps that had taken several, scraping tries to free from the neck of the glass, bottle caps of every colour, vivid and brilliant.
We divvied them up, and used the in our playtimes.
The whole rest of my trip, there were bottle caps in my pockets. Clinking, clinking, clinking.
Years later I would find them squirrelled away, in jewelry boxes, in compartments in the car, in my lego collection, and I would remember that trip, and the sun, and standing there at that soda machine, and the clink of those alluring caps inside.