Tuesday, 4 pm. A magnificent rain and thunderstorm lingers on. Yesterday was sunny and warm and a perfect day to stand knee-deep in a river.
“Gold panning. America’s favorite pastime!” jokes Silvio, who indeed went gold panning with two friends for the better part of Memorial Day.
“There is gold in Vermont and there is gold right in the Brewster River,” he announces. “It is very high quality gold too; very close to being pure.”
– How can you tell? I ask.
“I can tell because of the color and because it is very clean. In Vermont, gold comes from veins in quartz. As it gets eroded, it releases sediments. Everything ends up in creeks and gathers in certain spots.”
“There are very small quantities of gold in Vermont compared to the Rockies, California and Alaska. But Vermont gold is beautiful. First, to get to it, you have to determine what might be a good spot where it is likely to be found.”
– How do you determine this?
“By observing the bedrock and the type of sediments found in the river… and that’s all I’m going to say about that. I have to keep my story murky you know, to protect my claim!” jokes Silvio, his trademark mischievous smile lighting up his face.
“Panning is hard work. There’s a special technique used to run the contents of the pan through water so that only the heavier sediments, gold, stay in the pan. In truth,” he continues, “It’s a lot of hard work for very small amounts of gold in the end. This is why there is not much prospecting in Vermont, but the first settlers did a lot of panning and found fairly big nuggets, mostly out of South-Central Vermont.”
– How did you make out this time?
“Between the three of us we probably found $5 worth,” responds Silvio, laughing again, “How much money can you make panning in Vermont?” he adds, as though this were a possible book or movie title.
“We occasionally find beautiful stones too, like garnets. By the end of the summer, I am hoping to have enough gold and maybe a good stone to make something out of it. But the way it’s raining right now, we’ll have to wait until the water comes down again before we can pan. Our claim is being washed down as we speak.”
Stay tuned, until later this summer perhaps, for a new Ornament Studio creation fashioned out of Brewster River gold.
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