What I did on my fifty-eighth birthday

. . .I got up early.

Steve made us toasted English muffins with cheese for breakfast; packed lunch and traveling beverages, handed me the keys to the Argent the Subaru Forester, climbed into the passenger’s seat and said, “Follow the GPS.”

It was a gorgeous morning for a drive, and the GPS led me down pretty country roads, past ponds and lakes, into Maine’s Western Mountains coming at last to the metropolis of Woodstock, part of the Norway-Paris-South Paris metroplex, some heady 700-odd feet above sea level,  down a precipitous driveway into the parking lot of Maine Mineral Adventures.

We arrived at about ten after nine (for those who didn’t learn to tell time on an analog clock, that would be 9:10), and were greeted by Zoltan Matolcsy, who, upon learning that we knew nothing about the fine art of screening and picking gems and minerals, gave us an exhaustive and informative tour of the premises, explained where to dig among the tailing dumps in order to increase our chances of finding “a nice specimen,” screened and dipped the first batch for us, showed us what to look for, and left us to it.

We spent the next three hours sorting through rough rock, picking out anything that looked pretty or interesting.  (If you follow the the link above and look at the top photograph, our table was the second from the umbrella, which was half in the sun — sunlight is very important in sorting, and really picks out the greens, reds, purples…)  Steve said he was going to tell people that he’d given me a box of rocks for my birthday; I said I was going to tell people that he’d given me a box of tourmaline — which isn’t exactly true.  We got a good many garnets, too.

The tailings we worked were from Mount Mica.  Weird things that you know but don’t think about — Mount Mica?  Really is — or was, actually — a mica mine.  And there’s still plenty of the stuff there, even though the present mines are being worked for other minerals, notably tourmaline.  There’s no escaping the mica, from sheets as big as my hand floating like dead leaves in the rinse water, to tiny, glittery chips that cling to everything, like fish scales.

Also, there’s so much iron underlying Maine, that the rocks come out of the ground rusty.  We’re going to have to soak the ones we brought home in Rust Out! before we can truly see what we have.

And!  Black tourmaline, we were told, was pretty common and usually not worth picking up.  About then I came up with a black tourmaline crystal about the size of my fist.

That one’s  a keeper,” said the young lady passing our table.

Actually, I kept a good bit of black tourmaline.  I like it, common or not.  Figures; as a kid I used to collect garnets — another common stone “not worth picking up.”

From the mineral adventure, we motored into Norway, Steve driving now, stopping at the edge of Lake Pennesseewassee to eat lunch, drink lemonade, and observe the ducks, and pleasure boats.

Lunch done, we decided we wanted ice cream to continue with the day’s birthday theme, so we drove down 26 and eventually arrived in Old Ochard Beach, which the GPS insisted is not, quite, at sea level, paid our respects to the sea, had our ice cream, toured the town, checked in with Jeanne at Beggars Ride about the Carousel Tides book launch — watch this space for more information! — then back home via 95, stopping at Shaw’s to take on a California Kitchen garlic chicken pizza and thence to home.

It was, in all, a very pleasant and enjoyable birthday.

2 thoughts on “What I did on my fifty-eighth birthday”

  1. If you can’t find it, I don’t know how to show it to you, since I can see it perfectly well.

    Google on Maine Mineral Adventures, I guess.

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