A few weeks ago, my friend Margaret forwarded me a short article she had stumbled across, about a Scandinavian woman who found her long lost wedding ring when she pulled up a carrot in her garden. Apparently, Mrs. Paahlsson had lost her ring some sixteen years prior, while making Christmas cookies with her daughters. Her family had scoured the kitchen repeatedly and eventually given the ring up for lost. The ring reappeared this year, wrapped snugly around the neck of a carrot.
Now that’s a pretty amazing story, but it held particular resonance for me. You see, I too have lost my wedding ring in a carrot patch.
It happened last summer, when Andrew and I were visiting Margaret and Kevin on their farm in Vermont. We pulled up mid afternoon on a beautiful spring day and after quickly changing into farm clothes, bounded out to their fields to lend a hand. The day’s mission involved uncovering several rows of carrots, which were well hidden beneath a lush weed cover of wild mustard. I love weeding to begin with, even more so when I get to do it while catching up with good friends on a lovely day. The four of us worked out way down the beds, leaving the mustard as a mulch in the pathway and chattering about all the things that occupy farmers in the spring: rainfall, soil tilth, germination rates, and the occasional spattering of celebrity gossip. (Andrew would like the record to state that he did not participate in the celebrity gossip)
About two beds into our weeding bonanza, I realized that I had neglected to leave my wedding ring with my normal clothes, and that it was, as usual, threatening to fly off with every weed I pulled. I stuck it in my pocket, congratulated myself on my foresight, and continued down the bed.
As the day began to fade we stood up and surveyed our progress. The carrot fronds waved happily in the breeze and the mountains of mustard made the pathways springy and soft. It felt good to have dirt under my fingernails and a project accomplished. As made our way back to the farm road, I stopped, pulled out my pocketknife, and pried a baby carrot out of the soil to sample. It was sweet and crunchy and fresh.
Back at the house, we cleaned up and set about preparing dinner. It was then that I realized my ring had disappeared. I searched the house first, hoping that it had fallen onto the bathroom floor when I took my shower. No dice. I checked the car, the floor, all of my pockets, to no avail. I knew that there was only once place left to look, and that place was full of carrots.
By then night had fallen and I had begun to panic. My wedding ring had been given to me by my grandparents–it had originally belonged to my great, great grandmother–and to lose it felt like a betrayal of their trust as well as a testament to my own irresponsibility. I called Home Depot to see if they rented metal detectors (no) and made plans to call local hardware stores in the morning. Then Kevin suggested that we go out and look for the ring that night.
Looking for a wedding ring in a field of carrots at night seemed relatively pointless, but it at least sounded more pleasant than sitting on the sofa and mentally berating myself. We grabbed flashlights and walked out to the field. All the way, Kevin offered optimistic commentary, “I’ll bet we’ll find it in ten minutes! It can’t be that hard! With four of us looking, it’ll turn up in no time” I was less confident, but I did have one idea. If I could find where I had pried that carrots out of the ground, I thought, my ring might be nearby, having been knocked out of my pocket when I pulled out my pocketknife. So really, I told myself, I was looking for a carrot hole, not a ring.
I kid you not, I found the carrot hole, a neat little indentation in the middle of a row. We then began gently looking around the hole, shining our flashlights and praying for a flash of gold. And find it we did, in less than the ten minutes that Kevin had predicted. I was dumbstruck by our fortune, overwhelmed by gratitude, and instantly committed to wearing my ring on a chain around my neck.
As we walked back to the house, Kevin began to laugh “Wow,” he said, “I really didn’t think that we’d ever find it!”
I’m grateful that I did not have to wait sixteen years for the return of my ring, but I have to admit, perhaps a tiny bit envious of Mrs. Paahlsson’s more dramatic discovery…