Riverbank Discoveries

There is gold in them that hills! Remember those old westerns that showed miners past their prime wearing cumbersome boots and silly hats. They were shown with picks and shovels and maybe a donkey by their side. Did they expect to find so much precious metal that the animal had to carry it? Maybe because the prospectors looked to be a hundred years old. Take this idea into the present and picture me on the banks of the St. John’s River in my home state of Maine. I am sitting quietly staring at the water. A friend is next to me and he already has his metal detector going. He had this cockamamie idea of finding either gold or some items of historical significance that he could donate to a museum or sell. Now this is an odd way to pass the time, I thought.

I went on the trip anyway and dressed the part with hat, boots, and sturdy workpants. I didn’t know that I would be wading to my hips to retrieve things that set the metal detector off. I wanted my turn but didn’t know how to set the darn device. I had to disturb my friend to get some help. Once he took care of the preliminaries, I was off on my own. We agreed to meet and report what we had found at the end of the day.

As much as I mocked this activity, it was great to be outdoors in the fresh air. The scenery was picturesque and the weather balmy. It wasn’t such a bad idea after all. I was accumulating a few interesting pieces that I would show my friend for evaluation before I tossed anything back into the river. He had more than I did and it was an impressive display. He thought he had a few pieces of gold but said he would wait until he’d tested it to be sure. He’d found some ways to tell if gold is real or not on a site called Finding a Fortune. I wondered how these things got in the river in the first place. It was a popular area for fishing and camping and come summer, the water was inundated with rafters.

We didn’t want to get too excited until we had our loot inspected, but he assumed that at least a few items had some worth. I suspected that deep down he didn’t really care. He wanted the pleasure of the hunt and the idea of being a modern-day prospector. Why didn’t we just pan for gold? He liked the detector and wanted to see how it worked. Yes, it “caught” many metal fish, so to speak. One shiny object he dredged out of the river was a nice gold locket, the kind ladies used to wear to show the world their beloved. It is an out-of-date concept these days so the gem might have been lying at the bottom of the water for decades, or maybe a century or more. What fun to speculate about the owner.