Canadian woman Mary Grams, now 84 years of age, was devastated when her diamond engagement ring went missing in 2004. She thought the band may have slipped off her finger while she was trying to uproot a particularly stubborn weed on the family farm. But then the piece of jewelry was unearthed some 13 years later. And where it turned up is simply astonishing…
Owned by Grams’ family for more than a century, the farm is located close to the tiny hamlet of Armena in Alberta, Canada. It is a relatively remote place, close-knit and sparsely inhabited. According to the country’s 2011 Census Armena is home to only 16 dwellings and just 47 people.
The recovery of the ring after all these years certainly conjures up the suitably agricultural proverb to “find a needle in a haystack.” After all, the band turned up by complete surprise in the most unlikely of places at odds of what must be one in several billions.
Describing the 2004 day when she lost her precious item, Grams told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in August 2017, “I went to the garden for something. I seen this big, big weed and I don’t know why I had to pull it, I should have left it or at least [used] the right hand… it must’ve got caught somewhere and pulled the ring off…”
Grams, had been given the ring by her husband-to-be Norman in 1951, one year before their marriage. In fact she had been wearing the band for more than 50 years before it went astray. And, with so much sentimental value attached to the piece of jewelry, her loss was overwhelming.“
“I cried so many times,” she told CBC News. “We looked high and low on our hands and knees… We couldn’t find it. I thought for sure either they rototilled it or something happened to it.” And so Grams could only sadly accept that her treasured engagement ring was gone forever.
However, she did not have the courage to tell Norman what had happened. “I didn’t tell him, even, because I thought for sure he’d give me heck or something,” she explained. So the farmer’s wife quickly acquired a replacement decoy ring and wore that instead. And life on the farm continued as usual.
Some 13 years later Grams had moved to the small city of Camrose in Alberta. Sadly, Norman had died five years previously, shortly after the couple’s diamond anniversary, but her family still maintained the garden plot at the old family farm in Armena. One day her unsuspecting daughter-in-law, Colleen Daley, was picking some veggies for dinner when she made an absolutely incredible discovery…
All gardeners are well aware that fruit and vegetables sometimes grow in unusual shapes. Ever popular as mirth-provoking items, oddly shaped vegetables are nowadays often the subject of entertaining internet memes – particularly if their form is sexually suggestive. Genitals, buttocks and even couples engaged in intimate acts have all been identified in malformed vegetables.
There are many reasons why a fruit or vegetable may grow in a way that deviates from the norm. For instance, if a vegetable is damaged it may develop unevenly. But sometimes fruit and vegetables are deliberately misshapen. In Japan, for example, some farmers – presumably sick of them rolling off the futon – have managed to grow cubic watermelons.
The tendency for folk to see familiar forms in malformed fruit and vegetables is an interesting example of a psychological phenomenon known as pareidolia. This human urge to recognize patterns or form is the reason why some people discern a man in the moon, or see Jesus Christ in a flour tortilla, as the residents of one town in New Mexico did in 1977.
But the vegetable that Daley plucked from Grams’ old farm garden was not merely a random freak of nature, or an entirely imagined phenomenon. Actually – without indulging in too much pareidolia – there was something rather poetic about it. So much so that several international media outlets picked up on the story.
Reaching into the ground Daley pulled up a small, misshapen carrot. She was going to feed it to her pet dog, but then put it in her pail after all. It was only later when she had a closer look that she had a huge surprise. The carrot was shaped like a finger, and not only that, but one which had somehow grown through an ornate ring. “If you look at it, it grew perfectly around the carrot,” she told CBC News. “It was pretty weird looking. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
“I knew it had to belong to either grandma or my mother-in-law,” she explained, “because no other women have lived on that farm.” She asked her husband, Brian, if he recognized the ring. “He said yeah – his mother had lost her engagement ring years ago in the garden and never found it again. And it turned up on this carrot.”
Grams could hardly have forgotten her precious, long-lost ring. “I recognized it right away,” she said. “I didn’t think it would fit, I thought I would have to go to the jewelers… [but] it still fits… I’m going to wear it because it still fits.”
But this is not the first time in Canada that a lost ring has been reunited with its owner after many years of separation. In Ottawa, Westboro man Peter Quevillon found his late father’s wedding ring buried in the garden of the family home in 2015.
He had been sweeping a metal detector over a piece of bare earth, expecting to find nothing more than pipes and garbage, when he located something buried about six inches down. He shoveled out a hole. “The very last bit of soil I went through, I found something round,” he told CBC News. “And I thought – it can’t be.”
“I was shocked,” said Quevillon. “I put everything down, I sprinted into the house up [the] stairs, my heart just racing, and I showed it to my mom. And she goes, ‘Oh my God, that is dad’s ring.” The wedding band had been lost for four decades since the 1970s.
Intriguingly, the ring had been given to Quevillon Sr. in the 1970s by his future father-in-law, who had found the ring in Australia – buried in his garden. Much like the discovery of Grams’s ring on a digit-like carrot, there is a certain poetic quality to this tale.
However, Grams’s ring was found without the use of a metal detector. In fact, without Mother Nature’s “helping hand” it may never have been recovered on the finger-shaped vegetable at all. Of course, this is reason enough to get gardening – and with any luck your carrots might turn up some carats too.