The transmutation of one mineral into another, or into something completely un-mineral like, take your pick, was exactly as advertised by those who had told me about it upon my arrival -- with lightning flashes fifty miles distant and regular updates on the airwaves by anyone who had access to the airwaves, who had paid their money up front and were delivered of equipment eighty years out of date. You turned the knobs one way and you received information from as far away as Spain; you turned it another and the information you received was no longer really information at all. It was a bland re-working of stage dramas with names that suggested they took place in the Ural mountains and examined the everyday lives of everyday people but delivered nothing of the sort. I pitched my tent close to the outcropping the locals had named for a legendary pair of lovers who would meet up there nights when the moon was full and sometimes when it was crescent-shaped, or, as the locals frequently expressed it,” mimicking the uterus”, until they were discovered by a great, lumbering aunt of one or the other of them. She (it was said) wagged her finger in their faces and, when no one paid attention to the warnings she doled out from that evening forward with such regularity even her own siblings (at any rate, those who were still living) believed she had gone insane, she cast a spell that no one was able to break because they didn’t fully understand how it worked or how exactly it had managed to change the lives of those it had been cast on. The only difference in the victims was a certain ruddiness of the cheeks that appeared now and then inexplicably and a tendency to dream about snow leopards when before they wouldn’t have known what the animals looked like. When not pouring over old atlases or boning up on my trigonometry, I spent my evenings there reliving the experience, jotting some of it down in a notebook that I subsequently misplaced, but the trumpeting like bereaved swans and the sulfurous aftertaste stay with me to this day due to their novelty and what I’ve come since to understand was their association with that thing we term the Ground of Being when we need some entity or some place from which to begin. Someplace other than our own remembered origins which have the feel to them at this remove of something invented, something paltry and a little unconvincing like the plot of a novel, say, or almost any spoken sentence accompanied by tears.