Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Ain't Sayin' He's a Gold Panner...

As promised, today's ruminations surround the all too oft ignored pastime:

Gold Panning!

In true pioneer fashion, unwittingly aligned with his native Montanan-ness, my dad, Jerry,
recently discovered himself a new hobby: GOLD PANNING...because "There's gold in them hills...GOLD!" Well, at any rate, there might be...just...a little? Alright, alright, so a person is more likely to unearth gold from a bottle of Goldschlager than the barren hills and mountains of a once semi-gold-laden western paradise*, but shoot, it's worth a try!

To give this topic some much needed context, it's fun to note that Jerry has a history of highly successful hobbies. In no way, shape, or form is he all talk (unlike me with my gibber-jabber musings of "Oh, I'm totally going to start gardening herbs [pronounced "Hurb"], and "Hey, I'm going to lick this Sudoku yet!" Actually, for the record neither of these activities interests me in the least (my only "hobby" is drinking coffee a lot), but they could.

On the contrary, Jerry's hobbies, although perhaps atypical and underrepresented amongst my east coast city-dwelling friends, are commonplace and conventional Montanan activities.

, fishing, skiing, hunting, wood carving...the list goes on (maybe later).

Even as a kid my dad enjoyed hobbies. From what he describes, foremost amongst these hobbies was hunting for Native American arrowheads with his dad. They scoured hillsides digging for these once common treasures and found a fair amount. I have a clear memory of a framed picture with some of the findings--a pattern of arrowheads in arrowhead form that hung in his room. Do you see what I'm talking about here? Can you dig (pan for) the gravity and import of what I am describing?

But back to gold panning, or prospecting, if you like. In point of fact, the Gold Prospectors Association of America, continues to ensure the prevalence of gold panning ("prospecting") via its stellar publication, Gold Prospector. However, if magazines aren't your cup of tea (or as they say in the trade, "pan of gold"), I recommend the following publication; it is excellent: The New Gold Panning Is Easy (Treasure Hunting Text) by Roy Lagal, available on Amazon for $9.95. When you return from your very first prospecting expedition, you will have already made at least 25 cents in profit, and thus will be well on your way to recovering your costs, although I think you would agree, dear reader, that one cannot put a price on adventure.

I can sense you are ready to experience this "prospective" hobby for yourself. A word on logistics: consult our friends at Wikipedia, a source that contains really great tips on everything from what to wear (pants!), what to bring (shovel, insect repellent), and even how to fulfil your inner MacGyver (waterproof wrist watch). Most importantly, you will uncover how NOT to get arrested (you need a permit, silly). This is, of course, assuming you've got the basic gear needed for the gold panning itself. It'll cost ya, but once again, can you really quantify adventure through the human invention of money? After all, as that wise Cree Indian proverb goes,

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money

We have yet to find a palatable recipe for Gold brownies, either, but there's still time. Perhaps it can become...Jerry's new New Hobby.

*Gold was first discovered in Montana in 1852, but mining did not begin until 1862, when gold placers were discovered at Bannack, Montana in 1862. The resulting gold rush resulted in more placer discoveries, including those at Virginia City in 1863, and at Helena and Butte in 1864.

1 comment:

  1. Nice title for your post. It makes me think of all that urban pop we listened to in Portland, which then makes me think of our awesome Vanilla Ice duo. It was the best! I hope you're doing well, and that someday when Jerry strikes it rich he'll share the wealth with his old backyard neighbors :D