Our wonderful summer at Pender Harbour—a heady mix of writing, hiking, fishing, swimming and craft-market vending—was blighted when I lost my wedding and engagement rings, the two being fused together into an ornate arrangement that I had treasured for the thirty-seven years of our marriage. I had realized that the ring was loose on Friday while selling my mystery books at the craft market in Madeira Park. The arthritis in my hands was in remission and the ring had flown off when I was setting up for the event. Foolishly, I put it back on my finger instead of tucking it away safely. The day was busy. We made a good number of sales, after which I rushed about doing errands and buying groceries before returning to the Garden Bay side of the harbour.
Friday evening, we were tired. Saturday I was distracted by other issues and not feeling well, so it wasn’t until Sunday morning that I suddenly noticed the ring was not on my finger. We had just set up with the other vendors at the Garden Bay vintage car show when I looked at my hand and realized the ring was gone. Panic set in, because I had no idea whether I had lost it that morning, or whether it had slipped off my finger some time during the weekend. The last time I had a definite memory of the ring on my finger was at the market on Friday. The options were daunting: the cottage itself and a variety of outdoor locations on both sides of the harbour.
Hugh watched the table while I retraced my steps and went home to look for the ring. When I returned, unsuccessful, I found that the harbour grapevine was buzzing and many friendly residents and vendors were determined to help. Those who weren’t manning tables walked the paths, searching for the ring, but to no avail. By the end of the day, the ring had not been found and in spite of a successful event, I was feeling depressed. It would have taken a lot of book sales to bring in the replacement cost of my ring. What was even more depressing, the special rider on our insurance policy was no longer active, since a couple of the smaller diamond’s were chipped and the insurer had refused to cover the ring until the repairs were done and a new appraisal carried out. Sadly, we packed up our goods and prepared to leave. However, before we went, Dale Pearson, the kindly angel card reader at the next table informed me that she had done a reading and a good outcome was guaranteed. I wasn’t convinced, but I felt warmed by her friendly concern.
The next morning, Hugh and I put on plastic gloves and went through the garbage and the compost bin. We checked the drains. We ferreted through the grassy route where I walk the cat. We searched every corner of the cottage. Nothing. Next we hiked our way around the marine park, eyes glued to the ground the entire way. Again, nothing. On our way back, we stopped at the pub to leave my number with the manager in case the ring was turned in there. We did the same at the store by the lagoon. The next measure was to place an ad in the local paper, and then drive to the other side of the harbour to check with the merchants there. Ever optimistic, Hugh called our insurance agent to see if there might be some coverage, but he was told that our policy has no clause that covers A Mysterious Disappearance. At that point, we had to laugh. The official phrase covered the situation perfectly. I simply had no idea where I had lost the ring.
We set off for Madeira Park, and once there, our first stop was the hot-dog stand. The ring had not been turned in, but the owner took our number and cheerfully assured us that it would turn up because people were amazingly honest in the harbour. Next stop was the local IGA where I had done the grocery shopping. It’s a great store and we’ve always loved it, not only for its nice produce, deli and bakery, but also because the staff is incredibly friendly and the service is excellent. Any time I stop in an aisle and look as if I’m trying to find something, there is an assistant racing to my elbow and offering to help.
The moment we asked the girl on the lottery desk if a ring had been turned in, I knew we were in luck. She called for the manager, but the expression on her face said it all. Sure enough, the manager turned up with a big smile—and my ring. Another staff member had found it only that morning, down at the bottom of the bin full of peppers! How mundane, especially for a mystery writer. No diamonds in the chandelier a la Agatha Christie or G.K. Chesterton; simply dropped in a bin of vegetables! But we didn’t care. We were elated. We wanted to thank the staff member in person, and did, with a big hug from me and an offer of a cash reward from Hugh. However, rewards were refused. They were all simply happy that they’d been able to return the ring. Light of heart, we drove back to Garden Bay, and when we stopped at the pub to say the ring was found, there was yet another local trying to help by walking the grounds with a metal detector!
So as I type this, I’m looking at my ring, and realizing that it has gained tremendously in value, because every time I look at it, I’ll be reminded of all the wonderful people who helped when we discovered our loss and were so elated for us when the ring was returned. I’ll also be reminded of Dale, the angel reader who predicted a happy outcome. Maybe there’s something in those cards after all! But whatever strange forces or spirits are out there, the one spirit that’s tangible and undeniable is the great community spirit in the harbour. There’s nothing mysterious about that and may it never disappear.