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Agate it!

Figure 1: Carnelian agates found in Cowlitz County, WA and quartz crystals and sheet from outside Tenino, WA.

Here is a funny joke I came up with, amidst hour 4 of my 5 hour trek back from Cowlitz County, on the second weekend in July, in the 2017th year of the Common Era:

Figure 2: Clear-cut area overlooking a southern portion of the Cascades where we dug for quartz.

"What do you say when a rockhound tells a joke?"

~Agate it!

See, it's funny for several reasons. Foremost of which being that it is a terrible joke. There's also the obligatory pun, deriving from a deep well of puny waters so many geology fans are privy to. The icing on top of my comedic styling is the mispronunciation required to deliver this funny. Agate is usually pronounce "a-git," whereas for the punchline to work, it has to be pronounced "a-gate." Which sounds more like "I get," and totally kills whomever is on the receiving end of such mind-numbing hilarity. Nothing brings a solid sense of humor around like a thorough explanation of the nuances involved in joke telling. If there are any stand-up comedians reading this- you're welcome.

Far as the mineral agate is concerned, I learned some fantastic stuff there, too. Turns out, most of the marvelous, pretty stones you pick up are in the quartz family, not just quartz. Many are agates, and prized for their translucency, color, and shapes.

Things The Guides Tell Me:

My Pocket Guide [Rocks & Minerals, Washington & Orgeon, Dan R. Lynch & Bob Lynch] has the following to say on the matter of agate:

"Agate, carnelian; ...an example of an agate variety...known for their intense reds, oranges, and yellow-browns. Often found along rivers and mountainsides, carnelian can form in vesicles (gas bubbles) within volcanic rocks (like most agates)..."

My Home Guide [Simon & Schuster's Guide to Rocks and Minerals, page 245], didn't have agate listed on its own. I had to find it listed with its buddies, jasper, onyx, flint/chert, etc. on the quartz page. Which makes sense, I guess, seeing as how that page was also just another variation of quartz, known as chalcedoney. Then, you have the fact that the quartz family is a subfamily of the silicates. Pretty much the mafia of rock groups; loooots of branches on this family tree. Enough about trees, this is a post about carnelian agates! And this is what my home guide had to say about them:

"Carnelian; Uniformly colored, light- to -dark brown chalcedony. The orange-red color is due to the presence of very fine particles of hematite or limonite. Traditionally used for seals (what does that even mean?). Comes from Brazil, Uruguay, India, and California." I do love how Cali is thrown in there with far-flung exotic lands. Any Cali Natives out there: Accurate, yes or no?

Figure 3: Dog, Osyris, taking a break in the shady lean-to I made from clear-cut litter at the dig site.

If you know what you're doing and where to find what you want, there are ways to pull in serious dough as a rockhound for some things we were hunting. I, of course, do not know what I am doing, and retain little interest in the sale of my goodies. But that's no excuse to take the path of ignorance when it comes to the realm of foxing out minerals. And fox out we assuredly did.

The above joke will have to be told the next time I adventure wit