Monday, September 20, 2010

Go Green - Become a Detectorist!!

A question asked of me quite often, mostly from those people who don't quite "get" metal detecting, is, "Don't you ever get tired of digging trash?"  Truthfully?  Yes, at times it is very discouraging.  Nothing is so disappointing as thinking you are digging a coin only to pull out yet another aluminum can, bottle cap, or gum wrapper.  

When I first began metal detecting I was warned..."you have to remove the trash before you can uncover the treasures."  In my three years of metal detecting I have certainly removed a lot of trash from the ground.  Bags of trash, in fact.  Of course, it is tempting to pass over a signal that, mostly likely, is just another pull tab.  But as discouraging as it sometimes is, at the end of the day, to have a pouch full of trash, it is also satisfying to know that I am doing my part for the environment.  I like knowing that when I have detected a local park or playground, I am leaving the area somewhat cleaner - both above ground and below.  And yes, sometimes I am even rewarded with a few coins for my trouble.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If Only These Finds Could Talk

Everyone who detects knows the thrill of unearthing an extra special find, a find that keeps you talking and wondering for days and weeks to come.  It is impossible to hold such a find in your hand and not ask yourself...Who held or wore this last?  What brought them to this spot?  How did they come to lose it?  How long has it been buried?  If only these finds could talk...what stories would they tell us?

At times, through doing research in books or on the internet, the answers to some of these questions can be found.  But oftentimes you find yourself guessing at romanticized truths based on what little information you can glean from an object.  Did the wedding band found beneath some bushes slip unnoticed from the finger of a careless gardener, or was it thrown to its present resting place in a fit of despair by a jilted lover?  Was the button from a civil war uniform torn off in the heat of battle or did it fall to the ground because of a soldiers unskilled work with needle and thread?

In our three years of detecting, my husband and I have pulled many finds from the ground which have given us cause to ponder.  Some have been historic, such as the George Washington Inaugural button my husband found at an old abandoned home site, and the British Naval button I discovered by a neighbors hidden pond.  Others have been oddities...old hotel keys found deep in the woods and a child's art medal unearthed beside an abandoned railroad.  Distinctive markings on each find made them easy to identify and just as easy to date.  But the answers to those questions left us asking more...who brought these treasures to such desolate locations? and did they mourn their loss?

But sometimes the finds will whisper just enough to allow us to track down an owner and learn the real story behind how they came to be buried.  Tracing a name engraved on the casing of a watch found in 3 inches of sand will lead us to a grateful, though somewhat sheepish owner, who will admit to shaking out a blanket at the beach before remembering their watch had been placed carefully upon it hours it wouldn't get lost.

And one day, long after my husband and I are but distant memories, someone might venture into a cluttered attic, take down a long forgotten treasure chest from its place on a dusty shelf, and the questions will begin again.  What are these objects? Why were they placed in this box? Who did they belong to?  Oh, if only they could talk...what stories they might tell.