Beach Glass Hunting

“The only problem with looking for sea glass…is that you never look up. you never see the view. you never see the houses or the ocean, because you’re afraid you’ll miss something in the sand.” ~ Anita Shreve

It’s 6:45 in the morning. My best friend and I arrive at one of our favorite local spots – a popular beach on Lake Erie. Well, it’s relatively local. It’s 29 miles away or about a 45 minute drive that I can sometimes make in 30 minutes. We are 2 of a small handful of people who are up and about at this crazy hour on a Saturday morning.

As we walk down the ride away, I notice how calm the lake is. It looks like glass with the exception of a few small ripples coming ashore from the lone boat passing by with a couple fishermen. Since I’ve been coming to this beach years ago, I’ve always seen at least a few waves on this lake, but not today. I’ve never seen this lake so calm. Then again, I’ve never seen the lake at this time of the day.When we get to the water’s edge, we part ways. I head towards the pier and she heads towards the creek.

So why in the world are we at the beach at such an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning?

Imagine that you’re taking a stroll on the beach and something sparkly catches your eye. You bend over to pick it up and admire the simple yet pretty, frosty, little odd shaped gem. You look down and see another piece. A few steps away you find another … and another.

A little while later when you get in your car or get home, you look at all of the sparkly, frosty gems you’ve gathered. Maybe you have a rainbow of colors or maybe you have just a couple different colors.

You have just collected what’s known as beach glass or sea glass.

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How did the glass get in the lake?

There are a couple of ways that the glass ended up in the lake then on the beach.

  • Before the 1960’s, many products came in glass containers. Everything from food to beverages to medicine and everything in between. Also back then, it was a common practice to either bury your garbage in the sand or toss it in the ocean or lake. Since the invention of plastic and less garbage being tossed in the lake, these precious little gems are becoming harder to find.

  • The exact number is not known, but Lake Erie has had more than 2,000 shipwrecks, all of which probably had bottles, glasses and ceramic dishes on board.

  • Rumor has it that marbles have also washed ashore. They may have been on ships or thrown into the lake by children playing on the beach or at an amusement park by the lake. They may have also been dumped into the lake by marble manufacturer Akro Agate which was on the Cuyahoga River.

  • The average depth of Lake Erie is 62 feet. It ranges from about 30 feet deep in the shallowest point and 210 feet at the deepest point. In comparison, Lake Superior is 1,335 feet. This means that the waves on Lake Erie can be incredibly rough – especially during a storm. During a storm, strong winds kick up fairly powerful waves. This combined with the riptide churns the water and tosses the glass around while rubbing it against rocks and sand. This smoothes the rough, jagged edges of the glass and transforms them into a beautiful frosty jewel.

  • It takes anywhere from 7 – 20 years of being tossed around in this environment for something like a broken bottle to transform from a piece of glass with sharp, jagged edges to a smooth piece with rounded edges.

  • Beach glass colors span the entire rainbow with many shades of each color in between plus black, brown and white. Some colors, like white, green and brown, are more common than black and red which are very rare.

  • These recycled bobbles are collected all over the world. Depending where you live, they are called many different things like sea glass, beach glass, mermaids tears, ocean glass, and trash glass.

  • Glass found in the ocean is typically called sea glass, while glass on fresh water beaches is called Beach Glass.

  • There is no real value in these treasures, but they are beautiful and fun to collect.

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Back on the beach, I found my thoughts clearing as the sun was rising in the eastern sky. I asked myself why I liked collecting this garbage that Lake Erie polished and spit back out to the beach. Is it because finding these pieces of recycled past is like a scavenger hunt? Is it because I like being up at the crack of an ungodly hour watching the sun rising over the horizon? Could it be because I like playing tag with the waves? Or is it the peaceful calmness and serenity that I feel when I’m here?

My answer? It’s all of the above.

After I’m done looking for that one unique piece by the pier, I head back. I walk with my head down peering into the clear water to my right, then scanning the wet sand and rocks in front of me, then the dry sand and rocks to my left and back again. Every few steps I find a piece, then another, and another, and …

“Buddy! You went past the ride away again!”

I look up and sure enough I did. I was so busy with my eyes looking over every square inch of beach that I hadn’t even noticed the time, the tide going out, the scenery around me, or that I walked past the ride away… again. That’s ok though. I was enjoying the moment as it was happening.

When I catch up to my best friend back at the car, we show off our haul to each other. Today we found a lot. We both found a few big pieces and at least 1 of each color – white, blue, green and brown. I also found a few neat looking rocks and a couple of fossils. We hop in the car, put the windows down and the music up as we head for home. On the ride home, I am acutely aware that I hadn’t eaten breakfast. No matter. This was a great start to the day.

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Our lives are filled with so much stuff these days. Between work, children and information coming at us from every direction 24/7. We’re always rushing from here to there and a couple of places in between. I know. I’ve been there. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized what’s important in life. I know that there’s more to life than work and obligations. I missed out on a lot of things because of the obligations I’ve had over the years. I decided last year that I was going to do more of the things I enjoy doing.

In all my years of coming to this beach, I have yet to find a marble. Perhaps one day, when the tide is right, I’ll find a marble sitting on the beach waiting for me to pick it up.

My best friend told me years ago that when we got old that we would walk the beach collecting glass and seashells. I laughed and said, “Yeah right.” Little did I know back then that she was right, except now we’re not old. We’re just older.

Thought for the day: We will always have work and obligations in some form until the day we die. If we want to be happy, healthy people we need to look up from our work, obligations and our electronic devices. See the view. See the houses or the ocean/lake. Don’t be afraid of missing the occasional piece of glass in the sand. There will be more.

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Leave This World…

“Leave this world… a better place than how you found it.” ~ Sarah J. Maas

Growing up I used my dad’s tools occasionally. Dad never had a problem with it as long as I put them back in the same way I found them. One time I cut up a large tree branch that fell during a storm. I left one of his saws outside overnight because I was to tired to put it away. It rained that night. The next morning he found it in the yard with rust on it and was pretty angry. He told me I wasn’t allowed to use his tools for a while so I’d learn a lesson.

Thinking about the bigger picture, our ancestors have given us this land to live on. Everywhere I go in nature today, more and more garbage is strewn about. Whether it’s leftovers from a campsite, picnic, or lunch in a car, our garbage always ends up somewhere in nature. It poisons an animal, the soil, or body of water. Animals choke on food wrappers, get their heads stuck in plastic bottle holders or the plastic bags get stuck in trees choking the branches. I won’t even get into how long it takes our garbage to breakdown and disintegrate. Our ancestors didn’t give us the planet this way, so why do we leave it filthy dirty and poisoned for future generations?!?

Thought for the day: My dad left the earthly plane over 5yrs ago and I find myself putting my own tools back where I found them. The saw that was left out overnight in the rain and got all rusty? Dad was able to restore it back to its original condition. I found it one day in the garage with his other tools and remembered the lesson like it was yesterday.

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The Peace of the Wild

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news” ~ John Muir

I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of this country. From the rolling hills to the brilliant fall foliage, this has been my home my entire live. As a child, my neighborhood consisted of woods and a lake which I made sure I frequented both often. Years later I found myself living in the city for obvious reasons. If I wanted to go for a stroll in nature I had to go for a drive.

For many people who live in the city or work a lot, this isn’t so easy. I’ve often thought of how those of you who can’t get out to enjoy nature could do that. It finally came to me while I was at work one night.

I work for a lady who lives on the 6th floor of an apartment complex which is on the north side. When I need to take a short break I step out on the balcony. Right below is a major street thru the city and some beautifully architected buildings. If I lift my eyes up I can see the country beyond the city limits. Since my shift is in the late afternoon and early evening, I get to see the sun set below the horizon to the west – and I’ve seen some beautiful sunsets. Oftentimes I can block out the sounds of the city and enjoy the peaceful view and it renews my spirit.

Thought for the day: Being in nature is the medicine our soul needs to recharge even if it’s looking out a window in the city.

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“The Road Not Taken…”

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” ~ Robert Frost

Who’d have thought years ago when I had to memorize this poem that I’d contemplate it more in my adult years!

One can look at this poem, actually, this quote, a couple of ways. The way Robert Frost intended is looking at our journey in life and the choices we make. Or look at it as actually our path from point A to point B.

A site that discusses the meaning of this poem says, “The yellow coloring of the woods is representative of the light, hope, and promise that the speaker is standing before. His future is bright and stretches before him. Tho both paths are equally lit, he must choose only one.

It goes on to say, “The poem is set in the woods because we get an image of a quiet, deserted place where the speaker is left alone to decide. There are no road signs or people to stop and ask for directions. Similarly, there are no signs in life designed to help people choose their path”.

Pretty straightforward right? So many times in life we come to this divergence, or separation of paths, and we need to choose. Both choices lead to light and hope for the future but each path has different circumstances and situations to get there. Some of these circumstances and situations are more difficult than others.

Another way to look at it is this, in life when we physically travel from point A to point B, we are usually in a hurry and we don’t really pay attention to our route. We just go.

You see I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of the country. One day I was anxious and a bit depressed. Since nature and music soothes my soul, I combined the 2 and enjoyed a journey. I had some errands to run the other day. On my way home, I could take two different routes home. I could take one route that would be the quickest and more populated or the one that would be the most scenic and is less traveled. One was for the most part straight and the other had twists and turns. One was smooth riding while the other was a bit rough.

I chose the scenic route despite the fact I was in somewhat of a hurry. Sure, I had stuff I needed to do at home but I also knew that stuff would eventually get done. Along the route I stumbled on a couple of osprey nests, one of them had the beautiful bird in it. I pulled over to take a picture of that and then down the road I pulled over and got out of my car again. This time I was overlooking my Higher Power’s creation of a waterway. I breathed in the spring air and began to feel human again. After a couple more pictures, I headed for home on the winding road thru the hills of my lil corner of the world.

As I drove, I felt the anxiety and depression loosen the grip that it had on me. Kind of like Robert Frost said, “I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference.” Taking the scenic way, a path less traveled, well, it did make all the difference. The stuff I had to do at home? Well, that got done too.

Thought for the day: Instead of taking the same old quick route to or from work, school, errands, etc, why not take the scenic route. You never know what beauty you’ll find.

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The Road Not Taken 
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Care of Earth

“Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.”
“When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.” ~ Arapaho

“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” ~ Dakota

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations.” ~ Iroquois

“If you continue to contaminate your own home, you will eventually suffocate in your own waste.”
“When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard.” ~ Lakota

“Listen to her – our Earth, our Mother; listen to what she is saying.” ~ Mohawk

“Be still and the earth will speak to you.” ~ Navaho

Native American tribes, as diverse as they are, have many things in common. Perhaps one of the biggest and most important things they have in common is how to care for nature, for Mother Earth. The above Native American proverbs are just a sampling of the different tribes and their view. As you can see, each one is worded differently but they each speak on the importance of taking care of Mother Earth. Native Americans, and other indigenous tribes all over the world, have understood the importance of man living in a balanced relationship with nature. They have known for eons that one must take only what they need and leave enough for the next person or other living being that comes along. Whenever possible, replace what you take such as trees.

I am not referring to climate change or global warming. Enough attention has been brought up about this topic. I am talking about natural resource exploitation and the garbage we leave wherever we feel like it.

Man has had a long history of exploiting or over harvesting natural resources that Mother Earth has provided for all of us to use. It began shortly after man walked the Earth and it continues today. Some examples are;

1. In Europe around the time of the Dark Ages, mass deforestation took place. As people went from the wandering, nomadic life to sedentary(living in one place) life, forests were cut down to heat homes, make buildings, furniture and later paper. As the demand for wood grew, the supply dwindled quicker than it was replenished. Beautiful ancient forests were replaced with barren, desolate land.

When the white man came to North America, the same thing happened. Vast trees in the north eastern part of the country were cut down to heat homes, build buildings and furniture.

2. In America during the Great Depression, there was a period of time called the Dirty Thirties. During this time, a phenomenon called the Dust Bowl occurred. This was an event during a severe drought when farmers overused the land and didn’t apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion. This caused the Great Plains to turn into a desert which changed the weather patterns due to a lack of vegetation. Massive wind storms picked up the dust from the Earth and carried it as far East as Washington DC. This became known as the Black Blizzard.

3. There have also been countless problems with man over hunting animals and fish. Some animals have been hunted to extinction or have hovered the endangered list, while others can still be hunted but there are restrictions on quantity, sex or age of the animal. Examples are crabs, tuna fish, deer, etc.

4. Mother Earth’s minerals have not been spared the onslaught either.

As far as human garbage is concerned, the list of what we’ve done is very long. We have become to greedy and lazy. Our greed has lead us to not only overuse and exploit but careless and reckless as well as. Just think about the oil spills and other accidental or incidental pollution events over the last 75 – 100 years. Our water, land and air has all been affected.

How many times have you driven down the road and thrown or seen someone throw a beverage can, fast food wrappers or even gum wrapper out of the window instead of in a garbage can? Have you noticed roadsides littered with garbage? Do you know how long it takes for that garbage to break down? The following list should give you an idea

Banana Skin 3 – 4 weeks
Paper Bag 1 month
Cardboard 2 months
Apple core 1 – 2 months
Aluminium Cans more than 1 million years
Orange Peel Up to 2 years
Cigarette Butts Up to 12 years
Plastic Bags Up to 20 years
Plastic Bottle 450 years
Glass 1-2 million years
Petrochemical products never truly breakdown and remain in the environment forever.

As you can see, it takes a long time for our waste to breakdown, if ever. Now I’m going to assume that many if not all of you reading this don’t leave garbage all over your home. I know I don’t. So, if Earth is also our home, why do we leave garbage all over it?

We do not need to look very far to see examples of what we’ve done. Can you think of other examples of how we are draining our resources?

We can point fingers all day long about who’s done what to each of the resources but that will not solve the problem. We need to come up with viable solutions. If we are to pass Mother Earth to our children, we need to do a little work. We can start in our own back yards and in our communities. Wherever you find garbage, pick it up. In your community, there may be events where everyone gets together to work on an area. Go participate. Your community doesn’t have one? Start one up. And for heaven’s sake, if you take from the Earth, take only what you need and replace what you take if possible. There are plenty of activists and organizations that are working to clean up and preserve the resources that sustain life but they need our help. Donate your time or your money. If all you are physically able to is pray, then do that.

All it takes is one person to get the ball rolling. Together we can make a difference.

Thought for the day: “We are grateful to the Mother Earth.” ~ Pueblo

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Prophecy

“Someday the earth will weep, she will begin for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.” ~ Hollow Horn Bear, Brule Lakota

“Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated. Things come full circle, back to where they started. That’s the revolution.” ~ Russell Means

“When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from mantle colors, creeds, and classes, and who by their actions and Deeds shall make the earth green again. They shall be know as the Warriors of the Rainbow” ~ Hopi Prophecy

Planet Earth. While it is the most temperate planet in our solar system, it still has seen many natural disasters and extreme climate changes thru the millennia. Some of the hottest periods on Earth occurred in the Hadean(when earth was in its earliest formation), the late Neoproterozoic, and the PETM(Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum). The coldest time periods occurred during the Ice Ages when great sheets of ice covered much of the earth – even as far as the equator. Thankfully, those time periods occurred before humans existed. Those ancient climates would have been like nothing our species has ever seen.

Since man has walked the Earth, he has survived many natural disasters. However, over the last couple decades he has experienced a great many of them, perhaps the most in recorded history. Currently there are wildfires burning in Washington, Oregon, Montana, California, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. Also, Hurricane Harvey devastated much of Texas and parts of Louisiana with torrential rains and, at this very moment, Hurricane Irma has destroyed much of the Virgin Islands and has her sights on Florida. Irma has been declared the worst hurricane on record with winds blowing a steady 180 mph and gusts even higher. That’s 2 hurricanes in one month. Around the world there have been many earthquakes, flash floods, volcanic activity, avalanches, etc that some may say are occurring at a rapid pace. One might call these weather phenomenas apocalyptic.

There are those of us who blame this increase on climate change and what man has done to the atmosphere of the planet. Others blame it on man committing to many mortal sins and this is a Higher Power at work as various religious literature states. Native Americans and other various indigenous cultures, believe that ancient prophecies are coming to pass. And, sadly, there some people who blame people in the disaster areas on the people who live there and the choices they’ve made. There is one common denominator in all these theories. Man, rather the choices man has made over the millennia. Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that our planet, our home is in trouble. If we want our future generations to have a planet to live on, we need to act now.

Whatever belief one has, one cannot deny that a Force greater than ourselves is at work. And that Force is trying to give mankind a message.

As I sat on a nearby beach the other day, my mind couldn’t help but wonder about life, more precisely our civilization as a whole. Most of us sit nice and comfy in our lives surrounded by a multitude of material stuff that man has made from the Earth’s resources. We are able to flip a switch to turn on a light, turn a knob for water to brush our teeth or take a shower. We can pick up our phones and call or text each other, sometimes to anywhere in the world. We can go to the store and pretty much buy whatever we want without fear that the store will run out of it.

And then there are others who think only of themselves. They stand up and protest for a higher minimum wage, equal rights for women/immigrants/gay/lesbian/race/religious rights. They also protest the government either here in the states or anywhere in the world. Sometimes the protests are peaceful, but far to many are violent. Some protests have ended up in civil wars. There are corrupt leaders and leaders who want to take over other countries. There are even leaders with their fingers ready to push a button that will destroy other countries, if not the world as we know it.

I wonder, does anyone see what is happening in the world? Does anyone look beyond their comfy lives to see what we are doing to our planet, ourselves and the future young lives that will inherit the mess we’ve created?

By now you may be wondering if there is any hope for humanity. The answer is yes, there is hope. Fortunately, there are people all over the world who have become enlightened. They have awakened to the world around them and are making positive changes. Some people have even gone back to living as their ancestors did. These people are the ones who can help to turn things around but they can’t do it alone. They need you and me to join them and help pass along the message of hope.

One of the first things we need to do is put away our angry voices, our fists and our weapons. Look into the heart and put yourself in the shoes of another person. Imagine what your life would be like if you lived the life of that person. Next, see if there is a way to help that person. That help can be in the form of money, food and clothing, your time or even prayer. As we can see, people do not fall on hard times only at Christmas time. Every day someone or groups of people can fall on hard times any time of the year.

To help Mother Earth we can start by putting our garbage in a garbage can then move on to picking up garbage in our neighborhoods and communities. We can do our best to live more in harmony with Mother Earth. This basically means going green wherever possible. We can also live more Spiritually. I’m not talking religion or a relationship with a Higher Power, unless that’s what you choose. I’m talking about living by Spiritual Principles such as acceptance, tolerance, patience, and brotherly/universal/unconditional love. If we all work together instead of fighting each other just imagine what we can do. Imagine the world we can create.

Thought for the day: It’s time to stop fighting and tearing each other down. It’s time to stop hurting Mother Earth. It’s time to clean up the mess we’ve made so that our future generations have a place they can call home.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Garnet Mining

Garnet, the January birthstone and official gem of New York State. During a recent trip to Herkimer, NY, I traveled about 2 hours north to one of the world’s largest garnet mines. Barton Garnet Mine on Gore Mountain in the heart of the Adirondack mountains. On this venture I was in awe once again of the sheer beauty of the area and the gems that are found here. Knowing what my birthstone looks in a piece of jewelry, I was a little shocked to see how it’s found in nature.

About Garnet

Garnet formation dates back to about the Precambrian Period. Formation of this versatile mineral began about 500 million years before that in the Archeozoic Era when the Grenville Sea, one of the great prehistoric seas, covered this area and extended northward into Canada.

Garnets are found throughout the world in metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks. Most garnet found near Earth’s surface forms when a sedimentary rock is subjected to intense heat and pressure(contact metamorphosis).

Barton Garnet Mine

In the late 1800s, Henry Hudson Barton began mining garnet on his land(on Gore Mountain) using just picks and chisels to etch out the deposits of the red-brown gems. In 1878, Mr Barton opened Barton Garnet Mine, which went on to become one of the world’s largest garnet deposits.

Barton Garnet Mine is located near North Creek, New York, which is 2,600 feet above sea level. It is on the north side of Gore Mountain in the heart of the Adirondacks, the oldest known range of mountains in North America. Here, garnet crystals over two feet in diameter are often seen and crystals over three feet have been reported. The garnets on Gore Mountain are found in diorite rock which is encased in a rim of hornblende with a thin layer of feldspar between the garnet and the hornblende.

Garnets are mined for more than just jewelry. Most people are often surprised to learn that garnet occurs in many other colors and has many other uses. In the United States, the major industrial uses of garnet in 2012 were waterjet cutting (35%), abrasive blasting media (30%), water filtration granules (20%), and abrasive powders (10%).

Other miscellaneous facts about the mines:

  1. Largest garnet crystals in the world
  2. Oldest family owned and operated mine in the United States
  3. ANYONE can find a gem quality garnet without using tools
  4. Fantastic panoramic views over the Adirondack Park
  5. Easy access… with a tour guide just drive right into the old mine site.
  6. Handicap Accessible – Mine site is flat, making it good for walking and for wheelchair accessibility
  7. Garnet mine tour business started in 1933
  8. Gore Mountain garnet deposit is recognized as a world famous geology site
  9. The hardest garnet in the world is only found on Gore Mountain, making the garnet extremely rare.
  10. The Barton garnet has an unusual and beautiful ruby red color that flashes in the sun.
  11. In 1969, the Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, made the Barton garnet the New York State Gem Stone.

My Trip

As we traveled up Gore Mountain, I was in awe of the absolutely picturesque scenery.  Along the way we drove past several of the roughly 28 lakes that are in the region but we stopped at perhaps the most beautiful of the lakes, Indian Lake.

To go to the mine, we had to stop first at the gift shop to join the tour that had just left for the mine. After getting information about the tour, we made our way to the mine, well, where visitors are allowed to be. If I thought the drive up the mountain was beautiful, I ain’t see nothin’ yet.

After we left the Gore Mountain Mineral Shop, while on our way to catch up with the rest of the tour, I saw more of my Higher Power creations. We drove down the gravel road to what I can best describe as a lagoon of sorts. In front of me was a little pond with the stream gently flowing into then out of a pond that sat a the base of the mountain stood a few stories high behind it.

As I walked down to the water’s edge, there were a couple of medium sized, dark grey boulders with big ruby red splotches on them. Those were where the garnets were formed. On the ground in front of me, to my left, my right and behind me garnet pieces littered the ground. Sparkly little brownish, crimson pieces of different sized gems.

As I sat along the water’s edge, the tour guide’s voice faded. I soaked in the sounds of the water and the beauty that surrounded me while gathering up a few pieces of my birthstone. This was quite a contrast and a nice break from activities the day before at the diamond mine. I wasn’t climbing mounds of rock piles while risking a broken ankles find just one Herkimer diamond. The tools I needed were my bare hands and a container to pick up the garnet pieces. My hands had a break from chisels and hammers which was good as my blood blister healed for a day.

Thought for the day: Being in my Higher Power’s country I was able to feel more closer to Him which gave me clarity of thought and I was able to put things in my life into perspective. Doing this, being in nature, is something I encourage all people to do not matter where you live.

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