Rock On

by Erika Woelfel

I’ll admit to having a life-long rock obsession. If I see an interesting rock on the ground, my first inclination is to pick it up and examine it. Maybe I inherited the attraction to stones from my grandmother, who used to excavate fossils from a quarry and send them to a college geology department for identification. Rock collecting was a favorite pastime where I grew up. Because my neighborhood wasn’t really a rocky place to begin with (there were no mountains or rocky stream beds nearby), gravel roads provided the material neighborhood kids needed for collecting. After a big rain when the roads were washed down, wet rocks would show their true colors. It became a game to spot an interesting stone before anyone else saw it. Finding a particularly big agate or piece of quartz was like winning the lottery.

More often than not these roadside collections ended up forgotten in a pocket, only to be found by my mom at the bottom of the washing machine. All stray pocket contents went in a jar in the laundry room. By the end of summer the jar was full of all sorts of odds and ends—but mostly rocks.

More often than not these roadside collections ended up forgotten in a pocket, only to be found by my mom at the bottom of the washing machine. All stray pocket contents went in a jar in the laundry room. By the end of summer the jar was full of all sorts of odds and ends—but mostly rocks.

I remember asking repeatedly for a rock tumbler. One was never forth coming because they were too noisy and messy, and (according to my dad) it took a lot of time to polish stones, and you needed to be patient to get results. Which I was not. So no rock tumbler for me until I was much older…and I was still impatient to see the polished beauties!

So what, you might ask, is so useful about a rock?

I guess what is fascinating to me is their endless variety in shape, texture and color. They are some of the oldest things on earth, and interesting in their formation. In a landscape setting, they can be majestic and imposing, like the Rocky Mountains. Or they can be buffed smooth by water like pebbles found along

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the seashore.

Even a journey through Death Valley can put you face to face with some of the most interesting rocks on the planet!

Stones have been used as tools, implements and weapons. They have also been used to heal—a hot stone massage is terrifically relaxing!

At birth, we are assigned a birthstone to represent the month we were born. In death, stones mark our graves. Now I’m dating myself, but remember pet rocks back in the 70s?! Some believe stones and crystals have a spiritual quality that comes from the earth and beyond.

Clockwise from upper left: agate swirls; amethyst quartz crystals; amber is petrified tree sap with insects frozen in time; pyrite (fool’s gold) in a natural cube cluster. OK, this really isn’t a stone; it’s a metal ore – but super cool all the same!

Although I have always appreciated beautiful hand cut gemstones, I’m attracted to natural stones that come straight from the earth: druzy crystals, amethyst quartz, turquoise and moldavite to name a few. Like snowflakes, no two are ever the same!

Turquoise, larimar, topaz and quartz are popular semi-precious jewelry stones.

My sister found this awesome stone and copper horseshoe belt buckle at a local antique shop. (I will be eyeing this enviously, so she better watch her closet!)

More unique stones are being sold at flea markets, antique malls, online, at rock shows, specialty shops and boutiques. Agate rock is cut, polished and sculpted to create one-of-a-kind accents and home décor pieces.

Colorfully yours,

Erika

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