Thursday, August 2, 2007
A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?
Although I cannot say for sure, memory tells me that when I first heard this nursery rhyme it immediately stuck with me. As a boy, I remember asking my father what it meant to him. Rolling it around in his head for a moment, Duke shrugged and said; "It means shut up and listen, you might learn something." Short, sweet and to the point; I could always count on dad to cut to the chase. Since that day, I have tried to make the lyric my motto. I have not always been successful, but I am sure it has saved me some grief and aided in the accumulation of a few tidbits of understanding.
Last Friday, Steve and I were discussing how troublesome it has become to find natural, gem grade, turquoise. This topic is a real concern for us, because high grade turquoise is what we do; who we are. As we talked, we speculated about the resources and future availability.
After visiting our Nevada mining buddy, Tuffy, I was wondering whether there was a larger supply of turquoise, "somewhere out there," just waiting to be found. Nevada has huge tracts of open space, and I figured there must be plenty more turquoise to be discovered. In the midst of our discussion, the telephone rang, rudely disturbing our thoughtful conversation. Kathy's voice came over the intercom, saying that Tuffy was on the line demanding to speak with me. Thinking a "bracer" would help knock the edge off of the abuse I was about to receive, I walked into my office, opened the mini-bar and took a stiff drink of hard cider. Tuffy informed me that he had turquoise to sell, and if I didn't want it someone else surely would. I assured Tuffy I most certainly did want the stones.
After finalizing the details of the sale, I recalled the conversation Steve and I just had and decided to set off a depth charge to see what shook loose. Knowing full well I would feel the repercussions of my actions, I steadied myself, hoping to discover a few nuggets of high grade information. I had to know, so I dropped the bomb, "After seeing your operation and the vast open spaces in Nevada, I am thinking there must be a great deal more turquoise to be found out there." The line went silent . . . tick tock, tick tock, then, the explosion. "What kind of Jackass logic is that?" growled Tuffy.
I am forever regretting remarks that are, upon further consideration, better left unsaid. I cannot count the number of times I have knowingly mouthed off and gotten my proverbial "*#* in a wringer". The loss of delicate tissue makes me cringe on numerous levels. Duke regularly reminds me of the age old adage about the owl and the consequences of impulsive action. For me, the many painful memories have become more profound through time, allowing for the accumulation of a derge of philosophical knowledge.
From that point on, I said nothing, and just listened to the tirade. Tuffy let loose a barrage of colorful exclamatory language, to let me know just where the burro left his burrito. He spoke of recognized turquoise districts, a "turquoise belt" through specific areas of Nevada that coincides with a zone of strong tectonics activity; host rocks of limestone, shale and chert; and intrusive bodies or metamorphosed volcanic and sedimentary rock. Tuffy spoke of percolating ground waters, critical combinations of minerals, temperature zones and crystallization; occurrences that are extremely uncommon. "Turquoise", he said, "does not just happen".
I learned that Tuffy was well educated when it came to the formation, mineralization and extraction of turquoise; not to mention his grasp of adaptive language skills. To drive the point home, Tuffy told me the gem material or "character stones", I was so fond of were rare indeed. He told me top grade, natural turquoise consisted of less than one percent of the total production from his and every other mine he had ever known. Only an additional nine percent was what he called "commercial grade", which was suitable for use in average quality jewelry. The remaining 90 percent had to be stabilized, treated, reconstituted or used as colorful gravel in the bottom of the fish tank.
When Tuffy finally wound down, he cursed and said, "I spend more time educating you than you are worth; don't you ever learn?" "I heard you @%#* it," I said, "I'm listening!" The one sure thing I know about Tuffy is that you might have to sacrifice an ounce of flesh to gain a pound of knowledge, but in the end it's worth it. Not only do I learn a great deal about turquoise, I also greatly expand my vocabulary.
With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.