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Rocks and Rhetoric

I don’t believe it’s coincidental that election day and Halloween land within a week of one another. Along with all of the wonder that is autumn, tricks and questionable treats abound. Television becomes a brew of entertainment sprinkled with endorsed commercials of politicians duking it out in color, eerily fading to black and white. It’s a scary time.

I’ve yet to curl up by the fireplace with a mug of cocoa and face the reading of ye olde Voters Pamphlet. Who were these people, really? All I caught from the latest TV onslaught, with my head in the refrigerator, was that someone was doddering, with an opponent named after a notorious motel from a Hitchcock film. Not sure I liked the odds there. Then there were names appropriate to the season, at least — Webby and Murky, I think I heard. I see that some of my neighbors have even gotten into the spirit and decorated their homes accordingly.

I believe that my motivations were subliminally affected by the igneous rhetoric and stone-throwing, because I was suddenly inspired to make a visit to the Crater Rock Museum. It had been a while, and just maybe it would ease the weight of decision making that lies before me.

I realized right off that the name doesn’t begin to cover all that awaits the uninitiated. A simple metal building deceives from the outside, because the CRM holds far more than a rock collection. An extra-large gift shop, filled with hand-polished stones and jewelry, was impressive. The actual museum was like a corn maze only better because of the map. One room lead to another, each filled with colorful and beautifully displayed gems, minerals, fossils, Native American artifacts and shells. Stephen Miller is the dedicated curator who keeps displays neat and rotates items in a timely fashion.

The Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Society, founded in 1952 by Delmar Smith and Cap Mentzer, birthed The Crater Rock Museum, an outcropping of the members’ love of rock-hounding. One such member is Rick Flory, a friendly geology enthusiast who’s the shop steward on Wednesdays and has been a regular there since he was 7 and tagged along with his dad. He and other members encourage anyone who’s interested to join the group, accompany them on monthly field trips, and take advantage of the lapidary shop out back.

The museum is easy to miss located in a neighborhood at 2002 Scenic Ave. in Central Point, across from Scenic Middle School. Doors are open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The $5 entrance fee I paid was well worth the investment. Seniors and students get in for $3, and it’s free for children 6 and younger. See www.craterrock.com

I soon realized I could spend hours there studying the tiny worlds within each specimen. I reflected back to when I was about 8 and sprouted entrepreneurial roots. I could peddle anything door-to-door to warm-hearted moms, including leaves and rocks. I would dig rocks out of the field, water them down and sell them for a penny apiece. But, standing there before a museum case, I recalled how the rocks I sold were only appealing when they were all wet, and, again, it was difficult to shake the election heebie-jeebies. I’d stumble upon a label like anglesite or worm calcite, and the specter of politics would erupt. A large thunder egg, abalone, maybe a case of corundum, and I would be thrown off. With schist here and sponges there, it required effort to free my mind. Then, of course, there was the petrified dino dung.

Finally, I discovered pegmatites (I’m not making any of this up. See for yourself.) These were, apparently, formations named for me eons ago. I felt empowered as I read the description — intrusive, coarse-grained, igneous rocks, most often having a backbone of, I mean, composition of granite. I knew then that I would return home, remove my ballot from its confines, and perform my civic duty.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.