Sunday, May 25, 2014

lost in the woods, again

Loose minerals: smoky quartz, tourmaline, garnets. That was my quest. A local mine: 0.4 miles, take all you want, keep it, no fee. Early spring, I figured no black flies or mosquitoes. A rainy morning, I figured no crowds.

Vague directions, off I went.

I had a nylon bag for the rocks and crystals. I had gardening gloves to paw through piles of rocks. I stopped to buy a small shovel and pictured myself digging through piles of dirt and rock.

The sun came out and it was hot. Found the vague location: an upscale housing development, with mansions, a golf course, and fancy street lights. There was a park, with trails. I remembered the last park, how I got lost in the woods. A map would be good. I opened the map box and two hornets zoomed out. I jumped back and screamed. Tentatively re-approached, opened the lid, and quickly grabbed a map.I looked at the map and read the descriptions of the trails. No mention of a quarry. A ravine trail, perhaps the quarry was there. I set off.

There was a lot of construction, and piles of interesting rocks along the road. I picked up a few chunks of quartz, maybe 10 pounds in my nylon bag. Then I wandered around the ravine trail. There was a meandering stream, woods, and blueberry fields.

I was in a nature conservancy. Do not collect specimens! Leave nature where you found it!  I picked up a stray rock in the ravine, anyway, one of few. The trails were woodsy, piney, ferny, steamy, and streamy.

I got tired. There was no quarry, and no rocks. Time to head back.

The trails were well marked and well-maintained, but I was on a trail that wasn't on my map. Where was I? I kept walking: went over a long scary metal footbridge, through a wet patch, along some railroad tracks, and into a housing development: more mansions, long driveways, and big beautiful yards. Good, I was tired and glad to be nearly back to my car. Where was it exactly? I looked at the GPS on my phone; oh, I was a long way from my car: a long way by  road, shorter if I went back through the woods. Two women were sitting in the sun, in a driveway, with two toddlers. I asked for directions, secretly hoping they would drive me back to my car. They said they had no idea how to get where I wanted to go.

I headed back to the woods. I'd been hiking for 2 hours: carrying a bag of rocks, lost, sweating through my clothes, old, thirsty, and tired. I imagined that maybe I got lost because of that rock I picked up in the ravine. You know, the one I wasn't supposed to collect. It was squarish, white, with streaks of smoky quartz crystals. I found it in my bag and set it beside the trail.

I lumbered along, panting and sweating. I saw a turtle on a sunny log in the stream. A blue jay flew onto a low branch ahead of me four times. Swoop, land, call - in that metallic jay squawk. A deer bombed across the trail, white tail up; the ground shook.

With phone GPS I found the right trail, found more rocks (lots of smoky quartz, some black tourmaline, mica), and found my car. Pretty sure I had 60 pounds of rocks by the end. Or 100. Had to carry with both hands and a sharp rock ripped a hole in the bag. I trudged; my legs ached.

The car. Bliss. Freedom, movement, and air conditioning. Headed home.

I stopped to shop along the way. I  purchased mesh bags to cover my blueberry plants and enjoyed an unsuccessful search for a shoe cupboard. Home, with rocks.

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