I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Prospector gettin' gold fever and a dog named Shorty

We woke up to this.
Rain clouds and a bit of blue sky... but no smoke. I wish I could, somehow, let you breath the difference in the air.
Talk about silver linings. It was an unexpected front coming from the Pacific. Wonderful, cool and blessed moisture for the fire weary mountains to the east.
I took my coffee outside onto the deck... hot coffee with foamy milk. My favorite way to start the day.
I watched the sky and breathed in the air. It seemed like the beginning of a whole new season. A tinge of Fall was in the air.
After breakfast the Prospector left, on his ATV to help a neighbor and another friend, dig out a new spot on the creek where they suspect nuggets are hiding next to a vein of quartz. He left with some panning equipment and high hopes.
I opened up the house and let everything air out. Even our bathroom towels have a slight aroma of smoke in them. A week of smoky mornings had left a residual smoky smell inside the house.

I just couldn't sit still any longer. I had to see what the guys were doing over there, so I put the dogs in the backyard and drove over to our neighbor's place.
I was greeted by one of my favorite dogs. His name is Shorty. He's a Corgi mix.
This is one of the smartest dogs I know. He is also well trained and he loves people.
He greeted me when I got out of the car and decided that I was going to be his project while I was there. Maybe he was just ready for some female company. Every time I turned around, Shorty was there with me.
My neighbor took me over to see the glory hole and showed me how they were following a quartz vein through a crack in the bedrock. It looked like a great spot to be digging.
 Don't get too excited about this. It's a dirty business, looking for gold is. I just can't glamorize it. When I was a kid I loved to tromp through the creeks near my house. To the dismay of my mother, I was always going down to Grayson Creek with my friends, or by myself, and playing ... as if I was the only person in the whole world that lived there and I was on my own. My friends and I started a Nature Club and we would take hikes to the creek. It was part of my early prospecting training and I didn't even know it. Gold panning takes me there again. It's an old memory that still calls the little girl inside of me. Being outside, near a creek... panning... digging in a hole looking for "good dirt" makes me feel strong and young again. It's dirt, some water and a lot of hard work.
 But today I just looked and took pictures.and because I was balancing on some river rocks and trying to take some strategic photos of the "hole", I didn't get any clear pictures. Sorry.
I was having more fun taking photos of Shorty, who was just being way too cooperative and keep drawing my attention with his handsome little dog face.

 This is the area that the guys were working. There's an old cistern that always has water in it from a spring.

This area was a big mining/prospecting area in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The old rock walls,
foundations and cisterns built by prospectors that lived in the area are still evident everywhere. This was part of the great Mother Lode of California. You can feel the ghosts of its famous past.
Wild blackberries co-exist with the poison oak and there is always a feeling of history here.
I walked back to see if any of the guys were getting rich. They showed me there little vials of gold and seemed happy with the morning of work. There are three men in this photo. Shorty's owner is completely hidden behind the Prospector (with the hat on). Shorty is resting. I love the spread out style of his back legs and the smile. He's a happy, gold lovin' dog.
 This is the place where they panned the dirt and rock using a bucket of water (ONE bucket of water) to pan in. Don't let the folks that complain about recreational prospecting and mining tell you that we destroy the land. We are probably more aware of the beauty and ecology of this area than any "environmentalist".
Why would we want to destroy this beautiful area that we live in... and yet, the state had put a five year moratorium on any kind of dredging... even with small 2'' dredges. So they work the little creeks by hand with very little water, picks and shovels.
Mining is a right, protected by the General Mining Act of 1872.
OK, This is not a political blog so I will stop now before I get started.
I took a few photos of the beauty of the place.
And that's when I heard something moving around in the creek below me.
There was Shorty...
  cooling his heals (and half of his body) in the somewhat stagnant water of a creek pond, looking at me as if to say, " Well, I'm hot and this looks like a good place to be while I keep an eye on you."
He watched a leaf and stuck his tongue in the water. He was enjoying his new found swimming hole.
Then he got up, turned around and left. He went back to the guys. He was tired of being my guardian and following me all over the place.
The day was warming up. The sun was coming out and I decided to leave. The guys were being nice but a woman always requires polite behavior and cleaning up of the language. These are nice guys with respect for women. I didn't want to kill the fun of their male bonding get-together so I said "See you later." and left.
As I drove out I had to stop and take a shot of this old mining cave. I've never gone into it.
It always looks kind of scary. I expect a bear to come charging out, but so far... it has never happen. It might make a great wine cellar.
I drove up through my neighbor's gate and onto the main road.
Carl and Cutter would be waiting for me and not happy about the "other" dog smell. They know Shorty. He has come to visit a few times. They all get along really well. But I will get the "where have you been and what have you been doing." wet nose once over from both of them  It's routine. 

Congraulations to Diane Nyad. She's the 64 year old who finally swam the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida  today. Here's to determined older woman who never quit.

The Rim Fire is 40% contained tonight.

Gold is at $1.392.00 today and on the decline. But as the old poem by Robert Service goes... 

"There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
   It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
   So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
   It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
   It’s the stillness that fills me with peace."


  1. smiles...the thrill of the chase you know...i hope they find some...its like a treasure hunt...and the pups has the right idea on cooling off as well...smiles.

  2. Enjoyed my visit with you and the gold miners. It was like I was right there with you all. Shorty the dog is a cutie. Your photos were great as usual as was your story telling. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post about cleaner air,digging for gold, Shorty's adventures, and the beautiful area you live in. Wonderful pictures and narrative. Have a blessed week! Glad to hear the Rim fire is at least 40% contained!

  4. that dog is a hoot! Nice to see what it's like to be out there looking for the prize!


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