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Panning for Gold - Mary Julia

Panning for Gold

You must study the river.  Gold is heavy and will move through turbulent water in a straight line.  At bends in the river, look for the sand bar on the side away from the swiftest water.  Look behind boulders where water eddies and slows especially in the middle of the river.  If you find gold flakes, look up, the vein may be in the side of the hill running parallel to the river.  It will take your breath away to shovel many shovels of sandy gravel but who wouldn’t be breathless at creating hope in an empty day?  There is the ice blue river water running against your hot legs, the smell of cedar and wet stone to keep you company.  There is the possibility of gold and the reality of rattlesnakes.  There are even tiny flakes swimming brilliantly over the lip of your pan as you swish the water in larger and larger circles forcing what has no weight out, leaving what is heavy at the bottom.  Sun drops behind pine trees, shadows grow long against your back.  Summer grasses rustle.  Snakes wait for you to give them back the river.  They are thirsty, having traveled through thistles and dust, around rocks as large and hot as the emptiness you ignore.


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