On the road… again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Many times we all take things for granted. Being comfortable with one’s personal ignorance is a way to cope, so although we strive to know what is going on, or knowing how things really work or how something came about; nobody is the font of all-encompassing knowledge or wisdom.
Yet, some of us try to understand what is going on. As the scientists say, there is a reason for everything; and it is up to us to find out what those reasons are, or how things work. Take for example the creation of amber. In simplest terms, amber is a byproduct of solidified plant sap that is totally transparent. Most amber is associated with thorn trees found in deserts or semi-desert areas, and typical ambers distinguish themselves by the inclusion of insects or insect parts. As the sap from the thorn trees oozed out, the trees were visited by insects interested in feeding on the trees, or perhaps laying their eggs. When they became imbedded into the ooze as live insects, they were on their way to becoming a valuable amber. Some ornamental amber on display in jewelry stores can fetch over $300.
In reality, many kinds of trees in various climates are capable of producing amber. In attempting to demonstrate that concept for future generations, the Footloose Forester set about creating a specimen of amber. The procedures he followed might be called amberization. Yes, perhaps it might be presumptuous to invent a new word to describe what he did, but the early results so far are so spectacular that he is sure that he can create other ambers. The use of the word “ambers” in the plural is not done carelessly, either; for if it is true that amber comes from plant saps; and with the irreversible drying that subsequently takes place, it should be possible to obtain amber from any plant that produces sap that is sufficiently viscous and clear; and that can also be dried into a solid mass.
The plum tree behind the Pellek home produces such copious amounts of clear sap, that the Footloose Forester decided to make an amber. Instead of counting on an inclusion of an insect, he decided to insert a semi-precious stone into the glob of sap dripping from a wound on the tree. He chose a small, raw garnet from Thu’s satchel of gemstones. She had more than a hundred garnets in her holdings, so she readily agreed to display one of them inside the future amber. The Footloose Forester inserted a suitably clear garnet into the glob of sap from the plum tree and let it dry for a few days. Here is where a future man-made amber with an imbedded semi-precious stone became an unlikely and unique zebra amber.
The mystery amber
He dried the glob of plum tree sap, with garnet inside, on top of a plasticized strip that had been a product label with a prominent bar-code. He chose the label on which to dry the sap because it was unlikely to bleed through. A few days later, however, when he attempted to peel the glob of sap from the label, the thin layer did not peel off. Thus, when you look at the finished product you see an irregularly shaped glob of dry plum tree sap with a crystal-clear bar code showing from below; and in the middle a ruby red garnet imbedded in the center of the glob. In coming centuries, only those in the know will realize that what they are looking at is not the partial remains of a zebra that swallowed a garnet and perished under a plum tree, but an African garnet that has been product coded as a Ninja Food Processor.