One often overlooked “treasure” of the metal detecting hobby is the solitude it can provide, whether it means just an escape from the daily load of stresses we carry, simply getting out to breathe fresh air, or providing a much-needed distraction from something specific that ails us. When this peacefulness, which would be uplifting in and of itself, is combined with the added benefit of a great find or two, it can be a truly mood-altering experience. Such was the case last month in the days immediately following my father’s passing. Losing a loved one is obviously never easy. No matter the circumstances surrounding it, the harsh reality of a loss inevitably takes hold of the entirety of your thoughts, emotions, and energies. It was in rebellion to this fact that compelled me to go out on a short metal detecting excursion to my sister’s backyard the day before my father’s wake. Rather than sit around mired in mourning, I knew that a short hunt would offer me a sorely needed respite from the grief I was experiencing.
I had hunted my sister’s backyard once previously and came away with some interesting relics, including the lead army parachute figure seen in the banner of this site. My intent this time was to take it slow and steady and concentrate on each potential tone, having “cherry-picked” the great signals on the original hunt. My sister’s backyard is small and square, so gridding the yard from both directions seemed like a prudent strategy to employ.
Before I began, having put on all of my gear and about ready to set out, I said a little prayer of sorts, something to the effect of “Ok, Dad, bring me some good finds.” It was slow-going at first, as I initially dug some more remnants of copper shards that I encountered on my original visit. These were found on my first grid line, just along the border of a side flower bed. A few more adjacent grid lines produced some modern coins that I apparently overstepped the first time. Then, halfway through the horizontal expanse of yard, I got a strong, unwavering mid-tone with a VDI of 52 on my AT Pro. Such a VDI number is usually indicative of a pull tab or nickel, but the seasoned detectorist knows that this is also the range for gold. (Gold, being less conductive than silver or copper, shares similar conductive properties as some common junk finds. One has to dig many a pull tab or small piece of can shard to eventually score some gold.) Well, never having found gold jewelry, but having unearthed hundreds of pull tabs, I was expecting the usual but hoping for an older nickel—a V nickel, buffalo nickel, something interesting. However, it turned out that my Dad was truly guiding me that day, because when I dug the hole and pinpointed the target, out popped a 14K gold claddagh ring! I shouted to myself (though it may well have been out loud), “Gold!” It was a first for me and it was thrilling. I considered this a direct sign and gift from my dad and thanked him accordingly.
About an hour later, I had made my way to the far-left corner of the yard, where my patient, slow swing speed was being rewarded with some wheat pennies, another lead army figure (this time missing a leg due to warfare with time and soil), and a knife handle, all of which escaped me on my first visit. Further exploration of that spot resulted in a nice, repeatable tone with a VDI in the 70s. Now, a VDI in the 60s and 70s to me is always a wild card; it could be something very interesting like an old button, some older coins, or some other cool relic, like the aforementioned army figure. Digging the hole with measured hope, I proceeded to pull out what I could easily gauge was heavy for its size and figural. A few wipes with my glove revealed it to be a very nice lead angel. Again, thoughts and thanks were directed at my father. A gold ring was one major sign from my Dad, but an angel? What better symbol that he was truly watching over me.
I ended my hunt in a very different mindset than I had started—I was now relaxed, uplifted by a peaceful two hours of doing something I love, and inspired by what I took to be two gifts from my father.
This is a great hobby that provides for learning on many levels. Such lessons are constantly revealing themselves to me and most come at unexpected moments. The experience following my father’s passing was no different—I learned that day that sometimes treasures unearthed from below may actually come from above.