A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 043

From Gold to Dust

Gold, as panners Bibbo and Bois will tell you, usually occurs as disseminated grains or dendritic forms; rarely as octahedral crystals; occasionally as cubes or rhombdodecahedra. (Hey, give the typesetter a break, why dontcha? - Ed.) (She ain't seen nothin yet! - J.N.)

That precious metal moved Vergil to observe, "Accursed greed for gold - to what dost thou not drive the heart of man?" He might have added, "Yea, it causeth thee to scour in the Cocheco even up and over the waders! And to deceive thy fellow teachers by posing as, verily, an aquatic workshop!"

This smokescreen excuse for 17 Memorial Drive teachers to try and locate Main Street School's recently reported gold strike, was ostensibly a Fish and Game environmental experience run by an instructor with the give-away name of Judy Silverberg. They attempted to keep up the pretense of an avid interest in flora and fauna while I was snooping around, but several lapses in behavior gave them away.

Example A - In the stampede to glimpse the first trawl of river bed gravel, a large clump of Houstonia caerulea was crushed underfoot. Readers may recognize and sympathize with this flower as bluets or quaker maids.

Example B - When a caddis worm (Order - Trichoptera) was dredged up, five teachers blurted out "Gross!"

Example C - When a dragonfly nymph oozed over the slimy net and commenced to choke said caddis worm, scientific enthusiasm was absent from most faces. More shouts of "Gross!" "Disgusting!" "Ugh!" and "Where's the gold?"

I may be in a position to enlighten them on May 24 when I accompany Jim and Randy on their next visit to the big strike. Somewhere in New Hampshire, (not the Cocheco). Rochester Couriers, on the Day of Revelation, will cost $25 each.

Henry's Schoolmates: Henry Wilson, or at least his stone, had the pleasure of company, last week. Four senior members of Farmington Historic Society - Roscoe Chamberlin, Fred Dexter, Roger Nutter and Stanley Place - paid their annual respects by doing a spruce-up job at the famous location, for the fifth year in a row.

Typesetter's Quiz: There were no winners in last week's two-part teaser. The missing words between lines five and six were "...from the mountain to walk amidst his disciples, so do I...". This was probably too big a chunk to expect readers to guess...give them a chance guys. In the what's-the-word section, on page 10, most people plumped for Semitic, but the correct answer was, in fact, semantics. Perhaps you should suspend the quiz for a week or two, chaps, or I'll be out on strike again. (Oh no! Don't do it. We'll pay anything you ask .- Ed.)

Medical Appeal: The school nurse enquires of readers as to the whereabouts of fiddlehead ferns. (Call 755-2405 with the answer). Reason given is for the making of a salad, but more probably they are intended for some devilish poultice, once pounded into a paste with leg of toad and wing of bat. This last item, incidentally, can be obtained from Cumberland Farms, down behind the Twinkies. (See Carl Worster for exact location).

Advice: I respectfully draw the attention of the Z.B.A. to Myles na Gopaleen's assertion to the Plain People of Ireland that "tenure by sochemaunce seisined by feodo copyholds in gross and reseisened through covenants of foeffseignory in frankalpuissaunce with regard to trailer parks and gravel pits is alienable only by droit of bonfeasaunce subsisting in freebench coigny and a wee Glenfiddich for the press."

This should help cut through much red tape, freeing more time for the board, by means of inquisition, dialectic, and public breast-beating, to more fully explore their raison d'etre in the light of green book state laws, blue book guidelines, and the white bible of local zoning ordinances.

Security: Mr. Alan Spear has erected a brand new chain link fence around his garden that abuts Paul Blouin Avenue, to the great relief of Mr. Ramgunshoch, who is the thankful beneficiary of a fertile plot that sustains a clump of rhubarb and a stand of brussel sprouts. Ramgunshoch, nonetheless, wary of the barefoot gossoonry that rove the area, is urging Spear to install InertiaGuard. This is a series of seismic sensors mounted 20 feet apart on the fence that work as a team with an electronic analyzer, allowing disruptions in the pattern of shock-induced impulses to be read. With this modern marvel, wind and traffic can be distinguished from the high-frequency disruptions of cutting and climbing. The weakness of this defense would appear to be the sensors that could be taken out with a rock or well-aimed can of Budweiser...perhaps if linked with an anti-missile system comprising…(continued on p. 94).

Nuclear Fallout: The arrival of wind-borne radiation over the eastern U.S.A. from the crippled Soviet reactor brought forth a public-spirited citizen to hammer on the doors of Farmington officialdom and arouse their concern for civic safety. The gentlemen, whose anonymity I have sworn to protect, has brought the town Geiger-counters back into working order, and has been taking daily stock of the roentgens in the atmosphere. He will find it hard to alert the general population to the serious hazards of such a situation, or to induce in the masses, sufficient uneasiness. I know from bitter experience.

When I was a teenager in the early sixties, I joined the Royal Observer Corps, a uniformed offshoot of the Air Force, to play my part in the defense of Scotland against Russian nuclear attack. As such, with the other two members of the local cell, I took part in national exercises that simulated sneaky atomic strikes by the Reds. While other kids were aimlessly kicking soccer balls or stealing the Earl's trout, I was 20 feet underground in a bomb-proof concrete bunker reporting to D.H.Q., by means of hand-cranked telephone, the readings on atmospheric pressure dials, ground zero indicators, personal dosimeters and radiac survey meters.

You might think that my parents, devout members of the conservative peasantry, were proud of their son. Hmm! One Sunday, at 08:00, after a particularly grueling night of megaton cluster bombing over the north of England, and with lethal doses of radiation sweeping across the Scottish border, our nerves were frayed down in the bunker, I can tell you. Six posts knocked out. D.H.Q. screaming down the wire. Millions of people scheduled for evacuation to safer regions.

Suddenly, the chamber filled with ear-splitting clangs. Someone up above was pounding on the metal trap-door of the entry shaft with a large field boulder. Brief silence, then a ferocious roar.

"De curse o' Jumping Jehosaphat on ye, fooly! Come out o' dat hole for de breakfast afore I fires yer eggs down in on ye, plate and all!"

It was father.

Precautionary Measures: Steve White, making an unofficial statement on behalf of Farmington Police Department, is advising officers, in this time of national threat, against the wearing of police hats. He accurately points out that radioactive dust in the atmosphere, alighting on the head, can be washed down the shower plug-hole on a daily basis. But fall-out on the hat! Worming its way down into the fibres. Accumulating into invisible yet lethal cones. Clinging, clinging with the tenacity of barnacles. Throw those death-trap hats on a bonfire, good sirs.

Mr. Archie Corson, on the other hand, was singularly unsympathetic. "This is a state-wide decision on hats, or just Farmington?" he asked in the tone of a man who already knew the answer. Perhaps Archie could persuade Inventor Varney to design a mechanized wiper blade for the top of Police Department headgear. Sounds like the only way to glow.

May 20, 1986

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