Not Striking Gold

It was another perfect Mother’s Day celebration at my parents’ house this past weekend. The weather was gorgeous, we ate grilled hamburgers on my dad’s new deck, and we played competitive games of ladder golf.

Mother’s Day 2023 was a blessing with beautiful weather, delicious food, and fantastic moms.

However, come to think of it, there may have been one thing that wasn’t so perfect.

As a kid, I dreamed about how cool it would be to have a metal detector. The way I saw it, there was buried treasure waiting to be found in every yard or park I stepped foot in. If only I had the right implement to verify where my fortune rested.

I do remember a particularly magical moment from my childhood when we had a family gathering at Pioneer Park, Walla Walla’s oldest and largest green space. We spotted a man with a metal detector searching near our picnic tables. Much to the poor dude’s chagrin, a few of us kids became his shadow and followed him around the area as he ran his device over the ground. I remember he had small digging tools with him and would artfully puncture the ground when he found a hit worth investigating. Although we didn’t find anything of value while stalking him, my fascination grew.

The years passed and I became an adult. Up until Sunday I had never placed my hands on a metal detector despite my dream of going on treasure hunts. Well, wouldn’t you know it? For my sister’s birthday in March she was given a metal detector—apparently she had the same aspirations as me.

Over the past couple months, she has taken it to the campground where her family stays, the park across the street from my parents’ house, and other various locations. On Sunday, I asked her to bring it over to the Mother’s Day celebration. She obliged.

Miranda gave me permission to “play” with her new toy. When I removed it from the trunk of her car, I realized that it wasn’t some rinky-dink metal detector. Rather, it was a high-tech piece of equipment with multiple settings and all the bells and whistles. Alright, let’s do this.

I took the metal detector to my parents’ yard and started to search for the gold that I knew always existed within the earth. Of course, much in the same way that I observed the man in the park years ago, I suddenly had my own kids and Miranda’s kids tracking my every move.

Unfortunately, sometimes the fantasy doesn’t quite live up to the reality.

Although it was exhilarating at first to move around with the detector, I kind of started to lose interest with it. It wasn’t that I was not registering hits with it—because I was—but there is only so much you can pursue when your dad has stricter “no dig” rules than the Utilities and Transportation Commission. And even if I did have permission to disrupt even a single blade of grass on my dad’s prized lawn, I wouldn’t really know where to start as pretty much the whole premises made the detector go off. Gigantic treasure chest that spanned the entire area or sprinklers and pipes? Sadly, most likely the latter.

It wasn’t long before the detector was off my hand and in the possession of the aspiring young buccaneers who had matched every step I had taken for the past 15 minutes.

I wouldn’t say that my time with the metal detector was a complete bust. I just think it was impossible for it to live up to my expectations that were years and years in the making. I believe if in the future I am able to conduct a “Round 2” in a spot where I can dig freely that isn’t tainted with irrigation equipment, I might have a better experience…and perhaps even find some gold. Don’t Blink.

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