Saturday, June 11, 2005

Herkimer


atthemines
Originally uploaded by Bloomington Girl.
One of the things that excited Jack most about going to Herkimer was going to the Herkimer Diamond Mines to dig for diamonds. For those of you not from the area, Herkimer Diamonds are a certain kind of quartz that occur only in the Herkimer Diamond Mines. I believe that technically the mines are in Middleville, but what difference does it make, right? Herkimer Diamonds are actually world famous for those in the know. I have seen them in places as far flung the Smithsonian Museum in DC and in a jeweler's window in Bellagio, Italy. Betcha didn't know that Herkimer had this claim to fame, huh?

Anyway, we made the mistake of taking Jack to the mines last summer to "dig diamonds" and now he is hooked. He "found" a few diamonds there last year and took them to show and tell about every week during the school year. He is crazy about them.

Local schools often go on field trips to the mines, but, miraculously, I had never been. I imagined that digging for diamonds would be just that...DIGGING. I thought they would give you a little shovel and you would go in to some kind of cave and dig into gently yielding dirt chock full of shiny gems. Hah! As you can see from the photo, the experience is more like being on a chain-gang. You literally smash rocks with a hammer, hoping against all hope that you find a diamond lurking inside. It is dusty and hot and a rip-off. You have to wear goggles (not included in the admission price, by the way) because shards of rocks fly everywhere when you are digging. When I die and go to hell, I might have to "dig" for diamonds for most of eternity. The other segment of eternity will be watching the cheesy video that is for first time diggers mandatory viewing on the second floor of the musty smelling gift shop run by the tacky mean lady.

The only reason Jack likes to "dig" diamonds is because we plant diamonds in the dirt while he isn't looking and he "finds" them. And where do we get the diamonds? The gift shop of course. And, not for free if you don't mind me mentioning it. This time Jack found five small diamonds and one medium. Lucky guy that he is. I found one in the parking lot, buried in the dirt. It was the largest diamond that we "found". Next time I might skip the eight-buck admission and nose around in the parking lot. Better yet, next time I will tell Jack that the mines are closed.

Jack had a great time for about twenty minutes and then got totally overheated. No breeze in the mines. At least the torture was short lived for me.

When I was a little kid in Herkimer, my friends and I used to hunt for Herkimer Diamonds in newly dumped gravel driveways. We always found lovely ones. Way better than paying for the chain-gang experience. Now I know why my parents never took me to the mines.

Herkimer. Ah. A wonderful place to have grown up and a terrible place to live now. I am sad to say that not one iota of any economic recovery touched the place in the last twenty years. Industry has moved out or declined leaving a void for WalMart and fast-food restaurants to fill.

Well, I must away, gentle readers. Chris has put Jack to bed and Indian take-out is beckoning.

More later, of course.

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