There is something about unearthing a thing with your own dirty paws that transforms the simplest of objects into pure magic.
As we drove past Amish farms and families, on our way to the Amethyst Field (part of a private Amish farm) in Lancaster early Saturday morning in post-rain-perfection, my mind wandered to The Foundlings Collection that we were launching 3 hours from then. We passed horses and buggies, families dressed in black and white, and a very tiny Mennonite school established in the 1800s. Everything was simple and beautiful and open, and the earth smelled clean and loved. It could have been 1919—except for our car and Aldous Harding singing. As we wandered through the Amish community I wondered if any parents or grandparents of the very people we were passing had painted any of the animals and plants and creatures we were celebrating, since they were made 100+ years ago, in this very area. I wanted to ask someone, but I thought it would be intrusive, so we passed through.
We arrived at the farm that glorious overcast morning and parked in the alfalfa field by the Delaware Mineralogical Society's makeshift cardboard sign. When we stepped onto the freshly plowed and rained-upon field with our antique tools (which had been left in our new old house by the family before us, or the family before them), the earth fairly sparkled with purple gems—but we didn’t see them yet. First you must clear your expectations, then comes a finding, and soon enough, you can’t not see them. Within a few hours our Hunter Satchels were brimming with earthly magic: Amethyst, Smokey Quartz, regular Quartz, Feldspar, and mystery minerals.
We gathered with some families from Open Connections and within a few hours everyone was sitting in the muddy fields chattering and inspecting their finds. By the time the sun broke through the clouds, Søren and Silas were thirsty and hungry, so we walked back to the alfalfa field where they sat in the trunk of the Subaru and ate lunch. I headed back to the field to retrieve a forgotten antique and found a few groups of determined treasure hunters who remained, one of which found the biggest Amethyst of the day—had Amethyst fever, and couldn't stop searching. Another group was digging a trench that looked more intentional than the rest of the holes scattered throughout the field. I asked about their digging—it turns out they are part of the Friends of Mineralogy, Penna Chapter, and, like so many geologists and rock lovers we’ve encountered, they were happy to share their knowledge. They told me about saddles and folds and intersecting ditches, but, being foundationless in this complex science, the information trickled through me like the dirt through so many sieves that morning.
I returned to Søren and Silas, who were not bored as I feared, but hanging out with the other boys. We set off for home, covered in dirt, (after stopping for ice-cream of course) where we were greeted by Walter, also covered in dirt (from our garden-to-be) who photographed us as we tooth-brushed our finds.
Postscript: I posted this on Instagram @thebrotherskent and on FB and received a lot of questions (public and private) about the site. This is private land, and the family was kind enough to share it. I would recommend you look into mineralogical societies near you. There are chapters all over the US, and they are amazing resources! The PA and DE chapter cost $25 per family for a year. There are many field trips and educational meetings. Links are above!