Gold Panning

gold panning at pedros-creek, near Fairbanks, Alaska.

Don’t forget the dusky red garnet
the ephemeral flicker of yellow pyrite
the flash of silver as the water recedes

nor the purple mist of crystal clusters
pinkish amethyst clinging to quartz
the copper nugget conducting the light

nor how the river runs
how it settles then bends carrying weathered feldspar
stream-rolled jade and crimson cinnabar

indigo octahedral fluorite
like Saturn’s rings  this orbicular diuorite
in the tumbling stream

see the way they all roll in black sand together
scooped from the river bank in the sun
a halo of pigments as you swill the pan

and tip them away
so eager for gold and its flickering rays
while the world in a rainbow lay in your hands.

Orbicular diorite. © Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Pyrite. Source:
Octahedral Fluorite. Source:
Cinnabar. Source: Wikipedia.
Gold dredge coco mats to collect sand and gold, subsequently retorted. © angelajanehoward
Dredge stone crusher – behind are the riffles to collect quicksilver and gold

Note: The Limousin region in France has had two gold rushes, the first during the Roman period, and the second in the first half of the 20th century. More recently, 40 tonnes of the precious metal were mined by Areva in this region between 1982 and 2002. Gold is thinly distributed throughout France, the Pyrenees, the southeastern edge of the Massif Central (Cevennes) and the Massif Amoricain.


0 Robin in a winter snow scene

Robin, as you sing your red breast swells

between the frosty branches in this wintry glow.

You cock your head and listen to the bells


Song Thrush, Normandy

Beneath this cloud-spread sky you sing head high
for some lost mate, or for the joy to thrive
through storms, and glide through orchards ripe with apples,
cherries, berries, pears and leaves all dappled
with the shy sun’s rays.  Your quiet flight
a modest pageant: speckled breast, polka dotted chest,
feathers brushed buff-red that catch the light,
jacket dusky brown, the clear-cut vest
a lining laid in grey along your wings
as you carve your kingly way to topmost things.
Your song, suspended in the branches, waits
for wind, sent by a distant promise to celebrate,
awake a dormant hope hidden in the brume,
clear the clouds to welcome in the blue.
Your notes, released, then soar towards the sky
fill the air with nature’s pure delight
a song to lift us all from earthly strife
forget our woes for just one transient moment of


The Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos, La Grive musicienne) has long wings enabling it to migrate over very long distances.  Their strong, rapid wing beats allow them to soar high and maintain an easy cruising speed.  During migration they fly mostly at night.  In the morning, those that come to land catapult in at high speed to woody areas to ensure their safety. However, many Song thrushes in Britain and France are ‘sedentary’, i.e. are resident year round and do not migrate. Check out his song here.

And check out  Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Song Thrush’:  this extract is taken from the French organist’s famous work  “little bird sketches”, written in 1985 and dedicated to his wife Yvonne Loriod who gave the first performance in 1987:; starting at 7’04

Photograph: Song Thrush (Turdus Philomelos), Taco Meeuwsen, Hellevoetsluis, The Netherlands.