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Collecting Rocks (Calling All Rockhounds)





There was always at least one box of rocks in my bedroom. When it overflowed onto the bureau top, Mom would make me go through my collection and edit out the ones that weren’t pretty or still had dried mud on them. She just didn’t understand the urges I had to keep the buried treasures that Nature gave me.


Dad had a different perspective, even though he sided with her to maintain domestic tranquility. He also had a couple of small boxes full of treasures. His containers looked like valuable antiques. Delicately painted metal ones with tightly fitting covers. A fabric covered cardboard with a hinged cover. His holdings were quite different from mine. There was one that contained several Indian arrowheads and a quarter coin that had been bent concavely in the center by a bullet. These were things that he dug up in the corn fields while plowing or planting. Mom must have had a change of heart after he died because she kept his collections in the very same containers and gave them to me as part of my meagre material inheritance.


My wife, on the other hand, looks askance at the mess of rocks and minerals sitting on a library shelf in the guest room. She has asked me to keep the overflow, especially the larger pieces, outside in the garden or buckets. Even she has come to appreciate the best of my collection: the crystals of tourmaline, amethyst and quartz which I find or purchase. Giving her specimen crystals from the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel or from the several minerals shows I work each year has coaxed her into being more receptive. She is particular to amethyst, so I made a point of getting her a pair of sparkly purple earrings from Dennis Creaser.


Perhaps my late parents would both appreciate how my habit of collecting rocks has grown over the years. I’m sure Eleanor would read and reread my 2020 novel PROSPECTS, Mining Maine for Riches (Maine Authors Publishing). She was a more avid reader than Robert Senior and always pushed me to read. He would support the business aspects of my collecting. I bet he would be going with me to each one of the many shows I attend to help set up and sell PROSPECTS and the other books in my Lizzie Millett Series.


And this brings me to the reason I started this revery, to promote my upcoming appearance at the 2024 Maine Mineralogical and Geological Society show. Happening on April 20-21 at the Brick South venue in Portland, this is one of the premier gem and mineral shows on the East Coast each year. Fifty-six vendors, including yours truly, will bring their own collections to sell to several thousand “rockhounds.” I am the only book seller at the event and have had great results over the past four years. If you are a reader, as well as a collector, you can pick up autographed copies of my books.


The other ‘rock shows’ I will be attending this year are as follows:

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Oxford County Mineral and Gem Association Show. July 13-14 at Telstar High School in Bethel. This is the 61st year for this all-star gathering.

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Two Tailgate Sales at The Havey mine in Poland, ME. June 9, and September 14. This open-air show includes free tours of the working mineral and gem mine.


I don’t claim to be a rock star. There are many of those here in Maine. However, I know that many of those have enjoyed reading PROSPECTS of which one reviewer says:

"Spencer’s portrayal of southern Maine’s pegmatite mining history is fascinating — the business of mining, investing, financing, products and the frequent risk of failure. The ending, however, is sudden and surprising, capping an entertaining family and business saga."--Bill Bushnell on Books

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