Daily Archives: January 22, 2015

buried treasure

Buried Treasure

I was reminded yesterday that I never really told the story about the buried treasure we found in our backyard in 2001. We needed to correct some immediate drainage issues in the yard and in the small gangway between our house and our neighbor’s house. That area had the original brick pavers, but over the course of 115+ years, they had settled quite a bit, and dirt and debris had slowly covered them. (If you want to read more about the evolution of the exterior of the house, the link is here.)

So while we knew there were bricks on the side and immediate rear of the house, we did not realize that at some point the majority of the yard had been paved in bricks. We discovered this when we rented some equipment to help us remove the thick layer of weeds, churn up the topsoil a bit, and regrade the backyard to drain to the existing yard drains. Removing bricks that have been cemented in century-old muck is no easy feat. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work. But somewhere along the way, M struck gold. Actually, he struck diamonds, set in a mangled twist of gold.

There were two rings, both so mangled and filthy that they looked like cheap costume jewelry. The bands had been broken by the tools we were using, and I was completely convinced that they had come from a dimestore vending machine decades ago. (They were so far buried it had to be ages ago.) I promptly forgot about them, and focused on more important things (like when I was going to finally get to shower) while M pocketed them for the time being. Time passed, and then he was traveling to Columbia, MO every week for a project he was working on. On one of those trips he took the rings to a jeweler for a quick cleaning and an appraisal… just in case. Turns out they were real, and not only were they real, but they were very nice diamonds buried within those twisted settings. So he put the rings into a jewelry box and wrapped them up in holiday paper and put them under the tree.

I hardly recognized them when I opened them, but then I remembered those muddy rings from the yard. He told me that maybe we’d have daughters one day, and we could reset the stones into jewelry for them, or maybe we’d have sons and they could incorporate our buried treasure into something special for someone special to them. I loved that idea.

I look back at the photos of those early years of our marriage and everything looks like such a mess. We seemed to live in a perpetual state of disarray, covered from head to toe in drywall dust or grime or paint splatters or mud. There is nothing glamorous about the restoration process, and the road between the before and after photos is a long, winding path of hard work and aching muscles and overdue showers. But the metaphor of a discovered diamond in the dirt isn’t lost on me.