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We were walking our dog in the park by the river, back in the days when there were still big oaks at the western end. A few folks in our small city gathered there to celebrate under the oldest tree each equinox and solstice.

I had become livid about something stupid and was enjoying nursing my anger. Then, after a long silence, she said from behind me, “Here’s a pignose I found under the sacred oak.” In my mind I saw the Lord of the Flies — well, his snout anyway, stuck on a stick and left behind by our homegrown, gentle goddess worshippers. In her hand I saw a small blue rubber washer, clearly labeled PIGNOSE.

My better self broke loose, laughing. Our dog bounced alongside as we walked on, together again.

That dog and the oaks are gone now, but she and I are still here. And the pignose washer has dangled from my key ring for over 30 years. Seeing it every day doesn’t always keep me from being an asshole. But sometimes — a lot of times — it does.

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Key Ring Chronicles is a crowd-sourced project that explores the stories behind objects that people keep on their key rings. It was created and is overseen by Paul Lukas, who has kept a quarter with a hole drilled through it on his own key ring since 1987. Readers are encouraged to participate by sending photos and descriptions here.