A Wedding Ring Goes on Walkabout

"...the ring of power has a will of its own."

Lady Galadriel, from the intro to the film,
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, 2001.

And then there is my wedding ring. I have worn it for forty-two years but it was re-made by a goldsmith from a previous existence as the token of another marriage. It appears to have a life apart from me. In its time with me it has gone on walkabout at least five times and sometimes hasn't returned for rather long periods. Much of this is due to my weight loss that has rendered my finger quite a bit smaller.

The first excursion I can remember happened in 2003 and lasted perhaps a half-hour. I was walking across a dune footbridge to my son's wedding rehearsal on the beach when the ring slipped from my hand, fell to a wooden floor board, and slipped through a crack to bury itself in the sand below. The bridge's supports blocked my access to the sand below, but I could see the circular imprint where the ring had entered the sand. A few minutes later a young boy came along and wondered what I was doing down in the sand and I enlisted his aid. I had him worm under the bridge and scoop up a double handful of sand under the imprint. When it sifted away, the ring was in his palm. Wheew!

Another day the ring stealthily slipped off my hand and hid in the thick grass of our front yard. I spent a half hour on my knees searching until its glint caught my eye where it hid under a tussock.

The longest excursion was in 2010, when it fell from my finger as I lifted a piece of gear in the control room at the studio and rolled away across the floor. This time it was dead set on getting away. I frantically search for it for days and it didn't show. A month and a half later I was installing new gear in an equipment rack in the control room and lifted an access hatch to a cable raceway to run a cable. Now, I had searched this space before, but this time as I ran the cable the ring peeked out from under a thatch of other cables that had been run years ago. It was restored to me just days before my wife and I celebrated our thirtieth anniversary.

Winter days are great opportunities because my fingers shrink. One cold winter day I came home and shed my coat, hat, gloves, and scarf and looked down at my hand... The ring was gone again. I retraced my steps over the previous hours but the ring was nowhere to be found. The next morning when I put on my gloves it clunked against my finger, having been trapped in the glove and stripped off as the glove was removed the day before.

Which brings us to the present. Two weeks ago on another cold, snowy day, my wife and I were loading up the car to travel. It was a typical first day of the trip with packing delays adding up before we even got out of the driveway. As I loaded the trunk of the car I pulled off my glove to make a fine adjustment of the... stuff. The ring made a break for it and dived into a gap between two pieces of trim in the trunk. When I fished around for it, the ring took another quick dive around a bend in the crevice to vanish from sight. I grabbed some tools and attempted a quick extraction but it was for nought. We simply had to get going, so I abandoned the attempt and we left on our eventful journey of over 1000 miles. When we got back, I began looking for a good weather day to attempt to a rescue but the weather was abysmal for over a week.

Finally yesterday, we experienced a short blast of balmy, 57'F temperatures and I dove in to the task. I attempted to remove the trunk liner, but its bolts wouldn't yield to a ratchet wrench or impact driver. What to do? Don't raise the bridge, lower the water! I went fishing again with a flashlight. Suddenly, way down in the crack between the two pieces of trim, a tiny glint of gold appeared just below the bend in the crevice. I got a metal coat hangar and fashioned from a portion a retrieval tool that could possibly just reach around the bend in the crevice and exert just enough pressure to raise the ring above the bend. There, with another tool I crafted from the rest of the coat hanger, I might just be able to snag it.

I have no idea how the universe knows how to make things as hard as possible for adventurers like me, but it does. Let's just say that it took far longer and required far more patience than one would think necessary to affect the rescue. I was tried and bruised, but the ring and my finger are once again united.

We've got to get this ring re-sized, if only to reduce its forays into the world.