Our holiday gift list is complete. We have finished the farm chores for the day and even though the cabin could stand a good dusting, the sun is not shining in through the windows and the dust is really quite well hidden. The fire in the woodstove burns bright, and the cabin is wonderfully, beautifully warm.

Perhaps it is a good day to do what I so love to do: sit at my long work bench and sort marbles.

Now, some folks might think that I am a wee bit silly, but I have come to learn that those of us who suffer from this marble collecting affliction have no need of psychiatric counseling or blood pressure medication or even a cup of soothing herb tea at the end of the day. For you see, the passing of time by grouping the beautiful glass orbs into similar color and pattern categories is an amazingly calming activity.

I can sit at my bench and happily sort while the hours pass quickly by, and lo and behold, I look up, and the day is done, and I am content.

Those marbles that are chipped or dulled with pocket wear, I set aside into bins. These are the marbles that I give away to youngsters, wee ones with parental permission, and gray-haired ones with fond memories and smiles. One gentleman faithfully keeps his gifted marble in his pocket, right beside his lucky buckeye.

Then, there was the day that we stood in line to get a freshly brewed cup of holiday coffee, when I overheard the barista whisper under her breath that she was about to lose her marbles. I held our place in line as Greg dashed out to the car to retrieve a gift bag of marbles that I always carry for just such occasions. As we placed our beverage order, I handed her the marbles, explaining that if she had lost them, I had found them. She smiled ear to ear. She has now taught her young son to play the game, and they have started a family collection.

Often, as we are out and about in the county, I will hear a young child exclaim, “Look, Mom! It’s the marble lady!”

I smile, my heart filled to overflowing. I now have a ball cap and a jacket inscribed with the words “Marble Lady.” I am proud to don my marble attire.

Folks often ask why it is that I began to collect marbles and how I came to love them so. Well, I began collecting in earnest when Greg and I moved to the farm. As we packed up the city house, I rediscovered a wooden box filled with my childhood marbles. Sweet memories of “knuckling down” on the city sidewalk to play ringer “for keeps” surfaced, and when we later came across a jar of marbles on one of our treasure hunts, I brought them home.

Fond memories began to grow into a collection.

So now I figure that I love marbles because they bring me back to the days of my childhood. And I love marbles, because I can give them away and spread smiles in the process. And I also love marbles because of the quiet reverie I enjoy while sorting them and learning of their history.

These are but a few of the lessons that the marbles have taught me, but now I do believe that on this particular gray day, farm projects can wait for at least a little while, and I am going to head downstairs to my workbench and get to sorting!

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.