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Mar 25, 2014

On Sunday, we had a family picnic. It was one of the rare days(1) when the children didn't have any sports tournaments, and the weather was perfect. We quickly made plans to go down to a local river to spend a few hours. The river was quite high because it is early spring, and there is a lot of snow melting(2) in the mountains, filling the rivers and streams. We walked along the riverbank until we found a flat, beach area where we set up our chairs, food, and equipment. When I say equipment, I mean specifically our metal detector, and our gold panning (3)tools. There is gold in the Wenatchee Valley; a gold mine was quite profitable for many years. And now, you can find small deposits (4)here and there, especially in river banks. After we ate, we immediately started digging up the muddy sand, putting it in the sieve(5), and rinsing it in the river. As the fine mud washed away, small rocks and bits and pieces were left behind. It was so exciting whenever we would find a shiny, yellow flake(6). "This has to be gold," my kids would say. Each time they found a piece, they would put it in a small, glass vial(7) filled with water, and show it to my husband. "Nope, that's fool's gold," he said most of the time. Of course, they chose not to believe him. And they carried on gold panning as if their lives depended on it. Funnily enough, three groups of people walked past us, carrying serious gold panning equipment. So we realized that we were probably in the right place. So what is the difference between real gold and fool's gold? Well, they are chemically totally different. The symbol of gold is Au, and that of fool's gold is FeS2. One is a pure mineral, the other is iron pyrite. Gold is shiny yellow even in the shade, and has round edges, whereas iron pyrite is not as shiny, and has straight edges. You can often find gold and pyrite near eachother, so some of the flakes we found could be real gold. I have them now on a dark plate, and one or two of them look like they could be the real thing. I have a feeling that we will be visiting that riverbank more in the future.

1. 'One of the rare days'

a. It was one of the rare days that there wasn't any rain.

b. It is a rare occasion when he gives a speech.

2. 'Snow melting/ snow melt'.

a. The trees will be watered by the snow melt.

b. You can see the snow melting in the sun.

3. 'Gold panning'.

a. We went gold panning, and found a few flakes.

b. Gold panning is a verb and also the noun; just like 'cooking'.

4. 'A deposit'.

a. The minerals get deposited/ deposit themselves on riverbank.

b. I went to the bank and made a deposit.

5.'A sieve'.

a. You always need a sieve when gold panning.

b. I need to sieve the flour to get the lumps out.

6. 'Flake/fleck'.

a. You can use 'flake' for many things, like snow flake, potato flake, a flake of gold, a flake of paint. It is also a verb.

b. Fleck is used specifically to talk about a tiny, thin piece of gold.

7. 'A glass vial'.

a. Glass vials are small, long, glass containers used to collect samples.

b. We put our gold flecks in a glass vial.

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