Copyright© 2010 by Michael Wolfam
Liv stopped cursing her bad luck when the stream she had been searching for came into view. The blue ribbon was still a good distance away and she would have to climb down a steep hill to reach its cool waters, but at least she could see it.
Liv and her dad had visited this particular stream many times when she was a young girl. A small tear came to her eye as memories came flooding back. She, her dad and his best friend Mitch, who often accompanied them, would joke with each other while panning the little stream winding through the high country in front of her. Those had been happy times and Liv always looked forward to their next excursion with the same excitement most kids reserved for trips to Disneyland.
Their prospecting expeditions always started before daybreak. Mitch would spend the night and stay up late, playing poker with Liv and her dad. They would drag themselves out of bed at four in the morning, take her dad's Jeep up steep mining roads and shallow streams until they found a spot to spend the day.
Liv was in charge of packing lunch and took her duty seriously. They feasted like kings. Her grandma would take her on a special trip to the grocery store the day before in preparation.
During the course of their expedition, Liv often grew bored with searching through endless pebbles in her pan and would wander off to explore nearby meadows and pine forests. Mitch always joked that Liv was bad luck when she was in the stream. Every time she returned they would usually have a large gold nugget to show her.
For a while, Liv bought into the idea that she might be jinxing their expeditions. Until she realized it was always the same nugget, vaguely shaped like Donald Duck.