The precious gems of childhood

When we moved into our house, we discovered remnants of a white quartz bed some previous owner had made. White quartz can look good around a swimming pool, but the closest thing we have to a pool is a section of lawn that floods for a month every spring. White quartz does nothing for swamps.

I didn’t want to reuse the white quartz so I hid it behind an out-of-control woody shrub where no one would see it. Years passed; children were born; white quartz was forgotten and buried.

This Memorial Day Weekend, Big Brother and Buster found themselves playing in the secret white quartz burial ground. Big Brother discovered a piece of it. He brought it to me to be assayed forthwith. “Is this a crystal?”

I looked it over. “Yes, I suppose it is.” I’m not a geologist by any means, but quartz being a crystal sounds reasonable to me.

His eyes lit up. Apparently, crystals are synonymous with diamonds in second grade. He and Buster immediately set to work uncovering their fortune. They dug up crystal after crystal, eventually needing a tin to hold them all.  Big Brother kept count. After they had unearthed 200 precious gems, he asked me, “How much money do you think we have?”

I don’t have a good feel for fluctuations in the prices of crushed stone, so it was only a guess. “Oh, probably about four cents.”

“What? I thought we’d have at least $1,000 by now.” His enthusiasm was not dampened, meaning he was more interested in discovery than money, or more likely, I had proven my incompetence at valuing gemstones.

At length, their dig led them closer to the stem of the bush, making the branches more of a nuisance. They retrieved a garden lopper from the garage. Big Brother began clipping off branches while Buster, tempted by the lure of greater treasure, was persuaded to the less glorious task of hauling them away. I let them attack the bush at will since it runs amok so readily as to need trimming every two minutes.

This will look nice in the garage.

This will look nice in the garage.

Before long, the easy bits were cleared and thicker branches lay in their way. Big Brother began to strain as he struggled to squeeze closed the arms of the lopper. He gritted his teeth, grunting and groaning as the blade grew unwilling to cut any deeper. Sweat ran down his temples. From deep in his belly rose up prehistoric sounds of man’s epic battle against the forces of nature.

Mans never-ending struggle with nature.

Man’s never-ending struggle with nature.

At last, he relaxed his grip and took a deep breath. “This is even harder than taking a big poop,” he announced.

“Then stop making all those pooping noises,” Buster commanded.

Big Brother gave the clippers one more quick try, but we all knew the battle was lost. The clipping was over.

He learned a valuable lesson of manhood that day: when it’s the price of a sparkly rock, something harder than taking a big poop is probably not worth doing.