Ever since decades ago when my brother and I buried “gold” (actually iron pyrite) in coffee cans up Telegraph Creek, I have been a rock hound. Somewhere back in my childhood I got the idea that every rock must have a lump of gold and silver inside it. Why else would our parents have gone down in a cold, dark, smelly hole in a mountain just to fill up a little railcar with rocks?
Nearly every rock I collected when I was little had at least a bit of sparkle: A little pyrite, some “diamonds,” which disappointingly always turned out to be quartz crystals and garnets, which could never seem to be successfully extracted from the heavy matrix that encased them.
When I moved to town, I discovered to my delight that the shop behind the house had drawers full of polished rocks, a legacy of the original owner. I continue to be amazed by the way polishing can reveal colors and patterns, which can seem merely gray or tan when dry and dusty. Sometimes