96 posts in, and I suppose it’s high time I introduce this blog’s second namesake. Agates.
Agates are rocks, you see. Beautiful, wonderful rocks containing a motley assortment of lines, lacy bits, and fantastic eye-catching colors. Banded chalcedony, at times containing geode centers. Their delightful innards are often hidden behind a mild-mannered, blandish exterior. But if you know what you’re looking for, there are magnificent specimens out there to be found.
I’ve spent countless hours devoted to unearthing these lovely gems from rocky Great Lakes beaches. My first road trip away from my parents was charted solely to visit an agate museum in Grand Marais, Michigan. The only t-shirt I’ve ever worn to shreds proudly displays a large agate on the front. I am a rockhound with a penchant for hunching over along dirt roads, looking for treasure every chance I get.
So imagine my impatience to get out there and hunch after I learned last summer that there are agates in Maine. It took me a year, but I finally made it to Perry, Maine, located near the easternmost point in the continental U.S., and epicenter of agates in the state.
I find the geology of the Perry area to be fascinating. The sea cliffs are amygdaloidal basalt, meaning that a myriad of smaller rocks were once upon a time trapped in larger rock as it did something volcanic, flowed a bit, and cooled.
I am by no means a mineralogist, and except for one tiny banded specimen, I can’t say with any certainty exactly what I found on the beach last weekend. Agates look a bit different out here than the Lake Superior Agates I’m used to. Heck, learning the words ‘amygdaloidal basalt’ even made my brain hurt a little bit.
But I collect rocks because I think they’re beautiful, and those found near Perry fit that bill well. I’ve been cleaning them in a bleach/detergent solution, and will likely cover them in some mineral oil. While I would like to purchase a diamond tile saw to cut these babies open, those run a bit on the holy-buckets-EXPENSIVE! side, so perhaps I’ll find myself a small rock tumbler instead.
Rock collecting time is quiet, thoughtful, reflecting time. I find it to be as relaxing as yoga or weeding the garden. It didn’t hurt that the weather was amazingly gorgeous last weekend, and that the nearby towns of Eastport and Lubec were brimming with Fourth of July charm.
There’s nothing like a trip to the ocean to restore my faith in Maine’s intense beauty. The Downeast region of the state delivers good food, serene camping, and plenty of rocks.
A happy Fourth of July to those in America who are getting their tradition on today. I’m celebrating by spending the day watching my cat sleep cutely.
Visiting Downeast Maine:
My visit to Great Wass Island
Mount Desert Island in the autumn