Putting Down my Needles for a Day

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My husband has gold fever. His favorite hobby is panning for gold. I know what it is since I did it as a child at Knott’s Berry Farm. I thought it was cool then although I am not so sure now. He wants me to give it a try. “Drop those needles,” he begged, “and come along for some outdoor fun.” Okay, I was curious and open to a new experience. I had just finished a very complex needlepoint and was happy to give my fingers a rest.

I was not surprised when he brought out a new gold panning kit for me. He still had his old one. He liked to go with his cousin from time to time on men only vacations. I was privileged to be invited at this point. “You need exposure to what I do,” he explained. “See the other side of life.”

Recreational mining gear consists of a number of items. A basic kit he says has just what you need for panning. We weren’t going to use a sluice box this time or any fancy suction dredges or drills. We would sit by a creek, dangle our toes in the cool water, relax under the sun, and find gold – we hope. We would laugh and take photos and share them on Instagram and Facebook so our friends could have a good laugh. What a strange hobby they would say.

My husband says he found the perfect pans for our adventure. It would make it easy to do if I had the proper preparation and instruction. I didn’t know there were different types. I trusted that he would give me the right ones to strike pay dirt. I was getting into the mood. I knew the kids would love it. I would tell them that pans are not just for nutty parents but that geology enthusiasts buy them. As for me, I would undertake a predetermined process to find gold. It is so easy a child can do it. Just submerge the pan, perform the panning movement, separate and retrieve the metal. But does anyone triumph with this simple method?

They used to in the old days for sure. There are riffled traps to catch the metal as the extraneous material flows away. There is some type of textured screen at the bottom of the pan used to separate sand and silt to the desirable nuggets. They are likely to be pretty small. I suppose the lightweight but tough material is necessary to pan properly. Mine is a nice green color. My husband promises that I can graduate to more advanced “technology” in a short period of time. I still don’t know what a gold sluice is.

The hunt was somewhat successful since my husband knew just where to go. If you were very patient you could glean a few flecks now and then. It was rather exciting. I imaged what it was like a century and a half ago. I will need a hat next time to dress the part.