Long, Cold Winters In Vermont
By: Lance W. Comfort
Our winters up here in northern Vermont are very long and very cold. The ground can freeze down to almost 4', which, when added to the potential of 3-4' of snow on top of it, makes it impossible to think of metal detecting until spring returns in April.
When the metal detecting bug hit me a number of years ago, I found it necessary to develop other interests to keep me occupied when I could not go out and swing my detector. I used this time to research my finds from the previous season, as well as to look for new spots to detect the following year. This was a great time to hit the town hall records and look through 200 years of deeds and other documents in search of interesting locations for future hunts. I also do research at the library and through local newspaper records that are readily available.
I also use some of the off-season hours to clean, sort, and display my finds, and try to identify those previously unknown items. I take great pride in my finds and display them with care. When I take them to lectures that I give in the community, I always get compliments on how attractively they are displayed. I feel that once we have found a historical item, we become the keepers of that bit of history. It is our responsibility to clean, protect, and share these items with others. There is nothing worse than looking at a bunch of dirty, rusting relics thrown into a cardboard box.
Each item is properly cleaned and then protected to prevent any further deterioration. On my iron finds I like to use a product called "Extend" by Loctite. It not only prevents iron from rusting further, but also gives the metal a dark patina. On other objects I put on a thick coat of paste wax and then buff the item to a nice shine. This not only preserves the original patina but also makes it even more attractive.
For most of my displays I use the standard Ryker boxes, but I cover the white batting with felt in either a deep green or burgundy. I then add appropriate labels if I feel that it will add to the display. My coins are put in protective 2x2's, labeled, and put in a display case made to hold them.
I have to admit that one of my favorite ways of passing those long winter days actually came from my wife Linda's hobby, which is scrapbooking. Now, I know that all of you guys out there are going to say that scrapbooking is not a manly hobby, and that you would not have any interest in cutting and pasting- which is exactly how I felt about it until one day when Linda showed me a page that she was doing on a historical family piece.
I had been looking for a new way to show people my finds without having to haul around 20-30 display cases. This was it! I started to take an interest in what my wife was doing and how she was doing it. Now, I was not interested in all the "embellishments" and many of the other items that she was using, but I did like the antiquing methods and various tricks she was using to make new things look older.
I wondered if I could actually put together a scrapbook of my finds, along with research and other pictures that would tell a story not only about my detecting, but also about the items themselves and how they may have been used in the past. I started slowly with some of my key finds, and from there it just snowballed into a whole new aspect of the metal detecting hobby for me.
I put a variety of items in my scrapbooks. It may be a very special find that I've made, a particular historical place that I have hunted, or a synopsis of a year's finds. I have even completed pages on articles I have written and lectures I have given in our community. It helps me to remember so many things that we often tend to forget.
Each subject that I put in my scrapbook may be up to six pages long, with four being the average. I pick out the photographs that I want to use, and then choose paper of colors that work well with the pictures. I will use copies of old photographs and antique-looking paper for the backgrounds to give a feeling of history to some of the pages. I use the computer to add graphics and text, and then just spend time putting the pages together until I have achieved the effect I want.
One of my favorite scrapbook themes is my adventures with my brother, Rick. Several times a year, he comes here from California for one of our "Brothers and Others" hunts that we share with close friends who wish to come along. Each of these hunts lasts six or seven days, and eight hours or more a day of straight metal detecting. I have found that scrapbooking is a wonderful way of capturing these times, and recording with pictures all of the fun, excitement, and adventure, which I am able to enjoy over and over again.
I have recently taken this hobby one step further with what is known as digital scrapbooking. After each of our "Brothers and Others" hunts, I now put together a CD with the story and pictures. This is put into an attractive case with the pictures and titles, including the label, on the CD itself. I then make a copy of the CD for each person who has been on the hunt with us. You cannot believe the response that I get from them when they receive it.
To make the box and disc labels I use the Memorex exPressit S.E. 2.2, which can be picked up inexpensively at most large stationery stores. I originally started using Microsoft Word for the text and pictures, and have now started using a Microsoft PowerPoint program for a slide show presentation. Both work really well for this purpose, and I have found that most people have Microsoft Word; so, when I send the CD, they are able to just plop it into their computer and enjoy the pictures and text.
Not to be outdone, my brother has taken this idea yet another step further, and now does a DVD of the hunts so that the cases now holds both a CD and a DVD of each hunt. He simply takes a lot of video when we are out detecting, then edits it on his computer and puts it all together on a DVD for many hours of enjoyment. It gives us several ways of reminiscing about our times together for many months after the hunt is over.
I used to dread winter and the time when the ground would freeze and I would have to put away my detectors, unable to detect for the next five months. Although I certainly don't look forward to all that detecting downtime, I have now developed a number of ways of enjoying my hobby throughout the year. You may have to be a little bit open-minded and try some things that you have not done before, but I believe that if you give it a chance, you will find there are many ways to enhance your hobby when you can't detect, instead of grimly enduring another very long and very cold winter.