Overall, this rock is a white pinnacle thickening at the center where quartz mingles tarnished with the depth of color: the blackness of copper, the earthy redness of hematite. Held up to the light the quartz glows. Through the fleshy parts, ruby flows like blood forming a network of veins. In the cavity at its center, crystals coated with hematite iridescence blush ruby at their bases sprouting randomly elongating towards the center. Here is the heart of the rock where light energy concentrates, asserting itself. Under the lens the surface comes alive, flowing towards me, a vitreous mass icy suggesting molten plasticity.
Holding the rock, memory of the moment when I found it surges back. I was looking for a symbol of power and love and connection, a gift for my son. On a ledge, I stand on the narrow trail that spirals around a pinnacle. A wizard’s trail it was made by the footsteps of monks and missionaries, of soldiers and prospectors, miners and seekers of fortune.
Under the high noon sun, silence saturates the air. Lower down, a cardon cactus topples into the abyss, startling me with the crash of its demise. Around the corner, looking down, I see an arroyo winding like a river towards the west. Ahead of me there is an adit, its portal a mish-mash of timbers crisscrossing as the sides cave in. Piled on the slope below it, the tailings pile is chunks of quartz, massive and white reflecting the sun.
I pick my way down over the chunks hunkered on all fours against the steep mass taking care with every step. Heat bakes me as I look for the flash of light mirrored from a crystal plane. With my hammer, I chisel the rock away from a larger piece, too heavy and awkward to carry. In the early morning light, the palette of amethyst and ruby on the cleavage planes is exaggerated.
This is the rock I seek. Quartz is hard, a “7” on the Mohs scale, but its transparency is perfect to reveal the heart, the center, the soul.
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Choosing is a Looking