I first realized how much I loved rocks when I was a tiny girl.
I lived next door to a gravel pit, and on weekends when the excavators and dump trucks sat idle, my mother and I would take walks up there. On each trip, I’d come home with a bunch of rocks, mostly granite and schist stained with rust because of the vast amounts of iron ore in the earth.
When I was about eight, I went to summer camp in the western mountains of Maine, and we visited a hilltop that was a huge basalt slab embedded with tiny red garnet crystals. I was totally fascinated. But I knew that on the coast, there were no garnet-laden slabs of stone.
Through high school, I continued to visit the gravel pit next door, walking in silence and enjoying the majesty of the loamy cliff faces that towered above me. Every once in a while, I’d find a particularly cool rock: a glacier-worn piece of basalt with a milky quartz “ring” around the center, or a particularly intriguing piece of granite.
But when I reached college, I saw my first quartz crystal at a gem show, and everything changed.
It touched my heart in a way that I never imagined. The beauty and clarity of each facet drew me into it in a way that no rock had ever done. I couldn’t afford that crystal, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind, either.
“I must have one of my own someday,” I told myself.
I imagined seeing my own crystal sitting on my window sill, the sun shining through it. I imagined what it would be like to have more than one — maybe even a whole bunch of them.
Of course, I was still taking my walks in the gravel pit when I came home from college breaks. After I got my degree and moved away from home, I thought about that gravel pit and I wondered about the rocks still waiting there, but by that point my mother had opened a shop where she sold crystals and gemstones. I confess that when I visited home, I spent a lot more time at the shop than in the gravel pit. If I couldn’t have crystals of my own, at least I could be near them.
I hadn’t forgotten about those rocks in the gravel pit, but I needed a crystal. I was obsessed. I even searched mine tailing piles for the perfect crystal, but I never found it.
Then one day I broke down and bought a crystal from my mother. Then I got another, and another. Before I knew it, I had a house full of crystals: Quartz, amethyst, fluorite, selenite, tourmaline, citrine — you name it, I had it. I also collected other beautiful minerals. Specimens of kyanite, calcite, moonstone, Madagascar labradorite, lapis lazuli, rose quartz, agates, and geodes filled my shelves and windowsills.
I guess you could say that crystals won my heart. Now I can’t imagine living with ordinary stones. Sure, I feel bad for all the rocks abandoned in slag heaps, and every once in a while I’ll make a random rock sculpture in hopes of raising awareness of the beauty of even the smallest pebble. But as for me, I’m a crystal lover and I’m never going back. Curse me if you will, but that’s just the way it is.
What about you? Are you a crystal collector? Do people scorn you for collecting crystals while ordinary rocks languish? What do you say to them? Share your thoughts and rock the comments!
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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock rock collector, science nerd, amateur geologist and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She is active in landscaping and rock sculpture appreciation, and shares her home with a large collection of quartz, selenite and fluorite crystals.