AFTER SPRING RAINS, a rill ran through the olive orchard. Saturday afternoon and chores all done. Tiny green frogs hopping in the water, thinking froggy thoughts and trying not to get eaten by birds. A glitter and sparkle in the silt. I ran back to the house, secretly excited. Got a pie tin out of the kitchen, it would have to do. Though the spring sun was warm enough, my hands were in cold water and pretty soon I was shivering. Swishing the water around, handfuls of dirt distilled to a shimmer of gold. I'd gotten color, and without leaving home. This was Sacramento, after all. Hot-foot back to the house, where my mother took a long careful look and pronounced it iron pyrites. Oddly enough, I wasn't that disappointed. It really was asking too much to expect to strike gold in your own back yard.
April 1, 1994
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