Joining the Marine [Park] Core!
Prospecting in the Winter: Non Teneas Aurum Totum Quo Splendet Ut Aurum (All That Glitters Is Not Gold)
Rabbi Hillel L. Yarmove
Please pardon the Latin from which the English aphorism above is but a spin-off! But like so many other maxims and folk adages, this one seems to contain a kernel of truth—a tiny grain around which I can base an observation that is quite apropos for this time of year when nature itself seems to be in hiding—or at least, in camouflage. I am referring, of course, to the cold, icy northeastern winter, when I can’t write about the flourishing of flowers, trees, and other plants—and when various many birds and other creatures have hunkered down for the cold season, as it were. What else is a writer like me going to turn to? So being a collector of rocks and stones, I reasoned that maybe I would find suitable subject matter in earthy objects. And I believe I have succeeded!
From my personal rock collection I extracted three pieces of stone containing shimmering iron pyrite (ferric sulfide: FeS₂). Had I not known better, I might have congratulated myself on my discovery of genuine gold! But ferric sulfide is absolutely unrelated to gold and does not share gold’s amazing ability to conduct electricity and heat. Nor is it malleable and ductile like gold; neither does it have the medical properties of certain gold salts. And who ever wore jewelry crafted from iron pyrite—which turns out to be merely a source of the element sulfur employed in the production of sulfuric acid? And I have never heard of coins fashioned from iron pyrite!
No wonder that centuries ago when a prospector stumbled across pieces of iron pyrite which he assumed to be real—and then discovered that he had been misled—he might well have labeled his find “Fool’s Gold”!
Ah, but real gold: that is quite another story. Look at my photos of Fool’s Gold that accompany this article and then at the photo of a genuine hefty Brazilian gold nugget (discovered in 1980) weighing approximately six ounces (actually 170 grams), which I photographed from one of the books in my private library.
So, what’s the takeaway?
Here it goes:
Perhaps this might be just the season, when external outdoor distractions have been minimized by the biting cold, to take stock of the treasures which we aspire to acquire. Are they really worth devoting our time and effort? Are they indeed the real gold which we have taken them to be?
Or are they instead Fool’s Gold, almost worthless pieces of glittering nothingness?
You know exactly what I’m talking about.
As we travel inexorably toward the spring season and as the days have already begun to lengthen, such spiritual and intellectual prospecting may prove to be the most valuable product of what we had first thought would be an otherwise barren and unproductive winter. For Tu BiShvat is on the horizon, and if we prepare properly it won’t be just the sap in the trees that will be rising to the occasion.
So shall we!
Questions or comments? Please send these to me at email@example.com. Good prospecting, dear readers!