Sunday, February 8, 2009

Introducing Mineral Bliss

I’m not very religious, but there’s this feeling that the gods could be with me when it comes to the pursuit of collecting minerals, dealing in them, photographing them, and writing about all that relates to them.

Mineral collecting was a hobby and a passion for me in those pre-adolescent years before so many other concerns took over. After that, I all but forgot about minerals. From time to time, I pondered the question of what to do with all the rocks from my childhood collection that had been packed up so many years ago. The important thing was that most of them somehow remained intact, unlike the moving crate full of mid-fifties vintage baseball cards my mother threw away.

Not until one springtime afternoon when I was 55 was the spark re-ignited. My wife Nina and I had been tubing on Deer Creek in Harford County, Maryland, with our friends Mike and Judy. After a brief shower interrupted our bliss, the question arose: "What to do now?" Judy mentioned that her brother was caretaker on a nearby farm where one of the cornfields, when recently plowed---as was the case right then--- had yielded him numerous arrowheads.

Most were fabricated from white quartz and said to be particularly easily spotted when the soil was darkened by a bit of rain. Within a half-hour, we were crawling around in mud and managing to pluck about an arrowhead every two minutes. It was the kind of fun that I’d jump at the chance to do again and again. Unfortunately the opportunity didn’t arrive. It wasn’t until nearly a year had passed before it dawned on me how much the experience of collecting those arrowheads related to the all but forgotten joy of having collected minerals nearly a half-century earlier.

Before long, I’d searched the recesses of our attic and unpacked a box of minerals from my childhood collection. Suspecting that rocks could soon be all over the house, Nina suggested an area in the basement into which cabinets for them could be easily built. Shortly thereafter, I discovered eBay, and was taken with how inexpensive some minerals were at auction. The following February, I flew to Tucson for the final weekend of its grand Gem and Mineral Show and became further hooked.

For the next six years, civic and occupational commitments restricted my pursuit of minerals to an occasional hobby that would be fun to take up later in life. I stuck to my guns on that intention and now at the age of 64 have advanced into dealing in minerals, micromounting, being active in the Baltimore Mineral Society, and starting the web site That’s about minerals collected in the state of Maryland. Now there’s this blog, which should be good for a post a week.

And with that, it’s off to Tucson in my car to the Gem and Mineral Show, where the action begins the end of January and continues until Feb. 15. I’ll spend a week getting there, stopping along the way to crawl around the tailings of the Ron Coleman Quartz Crystal Mine in Jessieville, Arkansas, take in the Petrified Forest after crossing into Arizona, and hopefully also have time to visit the former mining town of Jerome.

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