I like to metal detect. In the past few months, I haven't been out much, so I've decided to head out--yes, even in this heat--and hit the playgrounds, schoolyards, and parks again.
For the most part, metal detecting is a private, solo event. With my goofy-looking headphones clamped on over my ears, I can embrace my nerdy side and escape into a relatively quiet world of beeps.
But start swinging a metal detector around and you immediately become a magnet for inquisitive children. Quite frequently, I get the kid who shadows me and wants to talk. Apparently, I turn into a Pied Piper of sorts when I go out treasure hunting, so I'm not sure just how much quiet time alone I actually get.
"Hey, lady, didja lose something?"
"Whatcha doin' with that thing?"
"Can I help you dig?"
"If you find a nickel, it's the one I dropped last week."
Most of the time I just pretend I can't hear them and look right over their little heads. Most of the time, it works too. If I'm feeling especially snarky, I will tell them that I'm looking for a missing contact lens.
"Hey, Mom, this lady is looking for a lost contact lens!" (That usually gets me a dirty look from the mom.)
One time I overheard a boy ask his mother what I was doing. "Oh, that's a Geiger counter, son." Oh yeah, a Geiger counter. Apparently, I'm digging for radioactive material, right here in the city park. You just can't make this stuff up. Next time, I'll don a haz-mat suit and freak everyone out.
I come home with an odd assortment of goodies when I treasure hunt. Mostly coins, but sometimes I'll find sterling and gold jewelry. Of course, there is the occasional dog tag, Boy Scout neckerchief slide, or award pin. You just never know what is lurking under the soil.
I've kept a log over the years of what I've found and where. I haven't stopped keeping that record, but I stopped counting when I got to $1,500 worth of coins. And I haven't dug up the mother lode yet or that box of buried treasure, but I can always count on unearthing enough for a cup of coffee or a drink from Quiktrip on the way home.
So, kiddies, just keep swinging upside down on those monkey-bars. I'll be there tomorrow to clean up after you.