Years and years ago, my sister and I attended an all-day gardening workshop. Newly married city girls who now lived in houses with big backyards, we jumped right in. My sister called me soon after with alarming news. After carefully placing stakes and string in the sunniest part of her yard, she began digging—and encountered what turned out to be a rusty bicycle!
I, too, have dug up many—much smaller—surprises. My garden finds have included a toy soldier, metal spoons, butter knives, marbles, and, once, a girl’s ring like the kind you get in a toy store. We live next door to an elderly woman who grew up in our house. My sons would run to show her what new treasure we had unearthed, and she could usually identify it. “Oh, that was my mother’s soup spoon she let me dig with in the backyard,” or “That was my little sister’s birthstone ring she got on her eighth birthday.”
Sometimes, though, instead of finding something, you lose it. When I was 28 years old, I suddenly began to lose weight. I went from 135 pounds to 97, before being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I got so thin my wedding ring no longer fit snugly on my ring finger. One day after gardening, I came in to wash my hands—and realized I had lost my wedding ring! My family and I searched the garden, even sifting much of the soil. We borrowed a metal detector and ran it over the garden, all to no avail. I must’ve lamented its loss once too often. One day my exasperated four-year-old said, “Well, you still have your wedding gown! Why don’t you just wear that?!“
My husband and I had picked out our matching wide gold bands in Greenwich Village from an old jeweler who made them himself. My sorrow was compounded by the fact that I was six months pregnant and didn’t want to go to the hospital maternity ward without a wedding ring! I decided to buy a new one. I tried shopping in the large discount stores for something we could afford, but became more and more convinced that I could never find a replacement for my old ring. Nothing would hold all the meaning and memories that one had. Sadly, I gave up the search.
During my eighth month of pregnancy, my husband gave me a small box and announced that he had the perfect ring for me. I resisted, stating that no ring could ever replace my last one. He answered, “This one can.”
I opened the box. Inside was his own wedding ring, cut in half to make two thin ones. One had been resized to fit me.
I have treasured it, in my garden and out, for over 40 years. ❖
This article was published originally in 2020, in GreenPrints Issue #120.