I spent the most entertaining afternoon panning for gold in the river in Romoos, Switzerland. The weather could not have been any better. The sun shone high in the sky as I pulled on my borrowed knee high boots and grabbed a shovel. After a quick lesson, I waded into the water and tried my hand at this not all together unsurprisingly difficult task.
First you dig past the heavy rocks, then you fill your pan with what you find, then you shake out the rocks and water until you are left with just a bit of sediment in the bottom of your pan. Even the tiniest of gold flakes are a great deal heavier than water or the river rocks to be found here. So if there is gold to be found, it will remain.
With a shake of the ridged pan, soon any tiny specks to be found are revealed. I only found a very few little specks. But discovering them was eternally exciting. Still, I think it's a good thing this was never and won't ever be my career. I would be a dreadful failure at it. As much as I enjoyed the weather and the experience, I haven't the patience to earn a living at it.
The team who took us provided us with all of the tools we needed including tiny glass vials to fill with water and preserve the gold I found. I will never again take for granted the shiny baubles I often wear without a second thought.
Jenny Block is the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Hardcover, June 2008 and Seal Paperback, March 2009), which has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. She writes a weekly column for the Dallas Morning News publication Quick called "Sex Talk with Jenny Block" (quickdfw.com). Jenny holds both her BA and her MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and taught college composition for nearly ten years. She writes for a wide variety of publications and websites, including huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, American Way, Veranda, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Voice, edgedallas.com, literarymama.com, Spirit, chow.com, and ellegirl.com.