It seems those long winters where I’ve hibernated on the couch with my best friend “Blanket”, have really taken a toll on me both mentally and physically. Last year, I again succumbed to the seasonal funk, making zero effort to get off the couch from Thanksgiving until February. When I finally got some enthusiasm and made a showing at the Penguin Dig, I was barely recognizable, to myself, in my own photos, having literally taken on the appearance of a large “couch potato”.
Needless to say, it was not a good look for me, and it took me a whole season of digging just to get back to an acceptable weight. Well sort of, because acceptable is just acceptable, it’s not ideal, just acceptable.
This year, I refused to relent to “Blankets” pleas to cuddle up in front of the TV for the usual three months that secures our bond each winter. And so far, I have not missed a weekend of detecting yet this season, some weekends doing double duty hunting on both Saturday & Sunday as well. My goal being not to look like a couch potato come “Quarantine-endo”. Fingers crossed.
Years back, (before I met “Blanket”), I would put on and extra 5 lbs or so during the winter, which would magically disappear when Spring arrived. Back then, all the digging, hiking and walking kept me in shape. Detecting was my diet plan, and the best part was that I ate whatever I wanted, there were no restrictions. You don’t need restrictions when you’re that active.
Aging though, takes a sneaky approach, playing games with your body (and your mind), regardless of activity level, which it takes you a while to realize. When I started to notice these changes, I attempted to rationalize them in my mind, but eventually I faced the facts, and decided that even though I didn’t like it one bit, I had to learn to get accustomed to certain things.
One of the major changes I’ve encountered is my energy level. The energy which was so abundant, and gave me that feeling of restlessness to get out there swinging, now has to be coaxed out of me. Mentally, the enthusiasm is still there, it just takes a while for the rest of me to catch up.
I used to love the feeling of exhausting my body. It used to feel good, but now, well, it just makes me feel exhausted. Gone are the days when I look forward to 10 hour days of foraging through the forests for relics and coins. A 5 or 6 hour day will bring me the same satisfaction, and to the same level of exhaustion.
I also now view any uphill terrain with disdain. I still go, of course, however, at a much slower pace, and with lots of breaks along the incline. I used to be proud to be called “hard core”, but now I’m just proud of myself for making the effort.
I no longer feel that I have stay at a site until the last possible moment, less I miss a good target—there’s always tomorrow, and nighthawking has all but lost its appeal. What if I got hurt running around by headlamp in the dark?
This applies to stone walls as well. I used to look for the breaks in the walls because they’re good places to swing, but now I look for them as they were intended, for easy passage through an area. Hopping up onto and over a stone wall, with a three foot or more drop on the other side could end badly. Better safe than sorry.
There are, however, bonuses (although mostly mental) to this aging process as well…
The years I’ve put into this hobby have yielded much in the finds and treasures department, so if I don’t find anything fantastic, I don’t really care. Oh how the newbies hate that! My bucket list has dwindled down to about five items, and getting skunked now just makes me laugh. The obsession to hunt is still there, but I get just as high now from the search as I used to in the recovery.
There’s no more rush to find the “hot spot” at a site, because experience has taught me that a lot of folks have no patience, and that gridding really is worthwhile. I also know that it’s just as possible to find a silver half while swinging randomly through the woods, as it is at that supposedly great site, and that large cents and silver rings like to hang out on hiking trails.
I boldly flick off ticks and hunt through the briars for targets. The smell of DEET no longer makes me gag, rather, it now has an intoxicating effect—and briar measled legs make me smile.
I’ve replaced my wife beater and camo pants with a much baggier, yet comfortable detecting style. And rather than do my hair and makeup to impress the wildlife, I now just roll out of bed, put on a hat, and brush my teeth while loading my gear in the car.
I don’t care if I’ve got the latest, greatest machine (I never really did anyway), because I’m keenly aware that experience with a machine can yield me just as many treasures as someone with their new XXX2000 Super Duper Detector and all its settings, buttons, ground penetrating radar and GPS.
I know how to hunt for pleasure, and I know how to hunt for competition. There’s a difference, and those who know me well, can tell which mode I’m in, although I rarely hunt to compete with anyone anymore. Well, except for maybe that newbie who keeps bragging about all of their finds to me. Do they not realize most of us have display cases full of our own bragging rights—and hail from the time before the word Humble was replaced by the word Facebook in the dictionary?
My feelings towards social media still vacillate between love and hate. Making videos is annoying. I just want to dig my target and move on. If I make a YouTube video, or post my finds on Facebook, it’s going to be reality. I’m not going to plant targets then yell “wahoo” while dancing around in the woods for your viewing pleasure. Some people do that, seriously, and a lot of you watch with envy, never realizing that a lot of it is faked. If it’s on YouTube it’s got to be real…Not!
My motivations for posting on Facebook are mostly so I don’t get the “Are you okay?” emails and texts, and to avoid the rumors that I’ve retired from detecting. I do appreciate the concern, so thank you, but rumors that I’ve retired? Seriously? No one ever retires from detecting, c’mon…
I’ve learned a lot as time has gone by… I started out in this hobby when women were scarce, and the men’s discrimination toward us was epic—dismissing any woman’s decent finds as being found by luck, not by skill. So I’ve paid my dues, kicked a ton of guys butts in the field, and was instrumental in opening up the hobby to women. Mission accomplished.
There is one last thing though, and you probably already know this, but metal detecting is ageless. There is no other hobby that one can get so caught up in, that the entire world, and any worries fade away, and one thinks of nothing other than what they’re doing at that moment, every moment that machine is in their hand. It frees the mind, and it’s a high like no other, which calms you to your soul.
So from one aging detectorist to another (and we’re all aging), even you newbies. Your motivations and physical abilities may change, but the enjoyment you get from this hobby will last a lifetime, so…Carry on…