For the past three years, I have had only one request at Christmastime: I desperately wanted a metal detector. I envisioned myself strolling the green hillsides of our farm, gripping it in one hand like a sword, a small shovel slung across my back, sweeping up buried treasure with each pass.
For years, my husband has failed to procure my perfect gift. That is largely due to his own vision for the results of my efforts being much different than mine. He believed I would find every staple and rusty old nail that ever was dropped on our farm, and that I would leave a swath of destruction in my wake the likes of which could only otherwise be seen if God sent a plague of gophers down to Earth.
Ever seen the movie, “Holes”? Yeah, that is what he imagined.
I suppose that I am intrigued by the rumors that my late father-in-law buried Mason jars of money occasionally. Supposedly, his distrust of banks had him literally stuffing his money into the ground where none could find it. Then, he either forgot about it, or died before he dug it back up.
The potential problems with the stories are many: What if he buried only paper money? What if he had a plastic lid for his jar? What if it is all a fraud, or worse, it is true but there is absolutely nothing about the treasure that would make a metal detector beep?
Once, my husband actually found a jar, though it was buried in the coal pile, and not the ground. My husband was cleaning out the garage and had tossed an old pair of five-buckle boots into the garbage can. Something about the noise they made upon impact made him go look a second time. Inside one boot was a jar with a couple hundred bucks in it. Not a fortune by any standards, but a bit of good luck, to be sure.
That is the kind of mythology that keeps one asking for a metal detector for Christmas until one’s husband finally breaks down and buys one. (Yay, me!)
So this year I finally got the gift of a lifetime, and then the ground was frozen too solid to dig up anything I detected. Forever, it stayed frozen. Like a Siren calling to me, stories of people finding treasure occasionally peppered the news, like the couple who found coins worth $10 million while walking their dog in Los Angeles, or the recent story of the Berks County man who found his wife’s grandmother’s wedding band missing these past 40 years.
They kept me going. Waiting. Not necessarily patiently, but waiting nonetheless. And now the newsman tells me that this whole week it is supposed to be warm. Perhaps the ground will be thawed enough for me to take a walk, and if I’m lucky, dig a hole.
If I’m really lucky, I’ll find a coin or other bauble that indicates treasure may truly exist. If I’m not, I can always start a rusty nail and staple collection.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.