Rock on: Gem of a show packs them in
I’ve never been into rocks, gems or minerals. Last Saturday, however, feeling a bit guilty I’d never ventured inside the Maplewood Rock and Gem Club in Edmonds, I stepped in.
The occasion: The second annual, two-day spring Rock and Mineral Sale, an offshoot of the club’s annual summer sale, this year marking its 11th anniversary Aug. 12-13. They also squeeze in two winter sales.
I expected the place to myself, but realized that was silly as I squeezed my car through the tightly packed gravel parking lot. I patiently waited for a rock person to leave.
The first thing I noticed was a number of vendors outside, under canopies. A light rain fell, etc. Once inside, club president Mary Ann Collins told me the show’s popularity last year led to adding tables outside. It was an understandable move – inside the building, visitors and more than 20 vendors crammed the overwhelmed space.
“We have everything,” Collins said. She pointed to her right. “Over in the corner there is Ethiopian opal. People come from all over. We have a mother and daughter today who said they came up from San Diego.”
All kids got a free rock.
Nearby, club publicist Beverly Ryder showed me a few of her lined-up rocks, all colorful and inviting.
“The people you’re seeing now are just collecting rocks,” she said. “They’re just buying pretty ones. They don’t care what it is or where it came from.” She wasn’t disparaging anyone – she’s been with the club forever, and is hip to the demographics and such.
“People just love rocks. They’re real, and most of the time they’re cheap and you can find them anywhere. There’s so much variety to them, and some of them just feel good.
“The people at the August sale come to buy rough rock to make things,” she said, holding up a slice of jagged jade.
A specimen from South Africa Greenstone formed more than 2.5 billion years ago was a head-turner. Dinosaurs hadn’t even emerged from the slop yet. “Laminations may contain evidence of the beginnings of life on Earth in the form of micro fossils of blue-green algae stromatolites,” the accompanying carton informed me.
How can you not, um, dig that?
Stepping outside, a young girl picked up white pebbles and examined them while mom watched.
“You could probably take those inside and tell people they were formed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth,” I told her. “Make some money.”
She giggled. Mom laughed. Rock joke.
Turns out the Maplewood Rock and Gem Club has a long history, as it has been at the top of the hill since 1951. It was formerly the Maplewood Community Club, built in 1929. (You can find an extensive history of the club at www.maplewoodrockclub.com/history.)
Who knew rocks were so hot?
“We had a steady stream of people passing through both days,” Ryder said Monday. “After church let out on Sunday, we were swamped.”
Now that the show’s over, the club’s work isn’t done.
Ryder told me the club has meetings every month, in addition to a couple of potlucks. There are frequent field trips. Rock education. Popular workshops. A rock store.
Lapidary. So cool.