Sunday, August 1, 2010

Asheville and Beyond

The Colburn Museum in Asheville, North Carolina was closing for the the next three days in deference to the surrounding gleeful madness of Bele Chere. That was why I beelined it to town via the Blue Ridge Parkway in deference to the joys of digging at one or two of the numerous collecting spots along the more curcuitous route. In early June, I'd snail mailed the Colburn to question whether the straw colored inclusions within the polished quartz stones pictured at left were really cacoxenite. My contention was that they were not cacoxenite; rather they were goethite. It would appear that either they ignored my letter, or I was wrong.

The dubious inclusions are most prominent in the smaller piece at the top, less so in the rounded stone below it. The lower one appears to be material often touted within the metaphysical world as "super seven," and frequently said to bear inclusions of lepidocrocite and various other minerals. Never mind that The Book of Stones by Simmons and Ahsian credits goethite with "past-life recall, connection with Earth, healing through grief, enhanced soul life, and artistic creativity." I should mention that regardless of labeling, both stones are attractive, and nomenclature should have little bearing on their value. My interest in them arose after purchasing a "cacoxenite in quartz" brooch for my wife this past February from a huckster at Electric Park in Tucson.

The following day, Friday, with temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, I left Asheville and Bele Chere to drive 60 miles to Franklin, North Carolina, which was just as hot, to visit its 44th Annual Gemboree. As in the past, this event features four locations quite close to each other. Much as we described it this time last year in Mineral Bliss, it featured few dealers not oriented entirely toward jewelry, gems, and lapidary rather than minerals. At the outdoor location across from the indoor one in the Macon County Community Center, however, I was fortunate enough to find one dealer with an eclectic selection of mineral specimens from old collections at appealing prices. The smithsonite from the 79 Mine near Hayden, Arizona ahown at right is one of several items I purchased from him. It's an old-timer, collected 31 years ago in 1979. Although the dealer knew as well as I did that apple-green (rather than darker green) crystalized (rather than botroydal) smithsonite from this locality is known to be very dear, he was kind enough to sell it to me as part of a volume deal for an extremely attractive price.

My late afternoon arrival back in Asheville allowed for time to catch the Trainwrecks playing their unique version of "dirty funk" at a stage just a block from my hotel. From there it was a five minute walk to Limones at 13 Eagle Street to sip a Maya Margarita made with mezcal, tamarind juice, orange juice, and cointreau followed by a plate of seabass with parsnip puree, haricot vertes, mango salsa, and passion fruit chipotle sauce. I then passed on dessert to walk two blocks south to catch Southern Culture on the Skids close down the day's entertainment.

The next day (Saturday) and night, I spent in Asheville, before leaving the merriment behind on Sunday in time to visit to the Little Pine Garnet Mine in Madison County about twenty miles northwest of town. The next Mineral Bliss post will cover those two days.

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