Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dan The Rock Man

Quartz Crystal Box by Linda Starr

Perhaps you recall when we were traveling in New Mexico and went to the White Sands National Monument. At the time I was inspired to make some pots incorporating rocks or gemstones. Years ago rock shops lined the Southwestern highways and there was many a fossil and gemstone to be found.

Antler, Two As One by Linda Starr

This time traveling across the Southwest we could find nary a rock store along the way. The more I looked the more frustrated I became; I felt I just had to utilize some precious stones in my work. I'd almost given up hope the day we left Las Cruces on a day trip to the White Sands. After visiting the monument, we decided to drive a little further northeast to Alamogordo in hopes of finding a rockhound along the way.

Papoose Jar by Linda Starr

As we drove through the outskirts of town, we could see the economy had taken it's toll. There were boarded up businesses and homes along the way. But we pushed on, my quest for the rocks I desired was all encompassing. I knew if I didn't find some stones that day we'd soon be out of the southwest, and that would be my last chance to find what I wanted.

Ammonite Vessel by Linda Starr

While driving along I spied a chain link enclosure in front of a boarded up motel with some dilapidated tables with what looked like rocks on them. I said, "Look, look, there's some rocks". Gary said, "That's not a rock yard, and besides it's abandoned, we can't go in there". I said, "Please let's just stop and see". Gary said, "We'll stop on our way back from town, if you don't find a rock store". I made a mental note of where the chain link enclosure was located. I thought to myself, Gary probably thinks I'll forget where this is. We drove a few miles further into Alamogordo and found nothing other than the usual grocery and a few shops, no rock shops or stands anywhere.

Gunmetal and Turquoise Basket by Linda Starr

We started back to our campground in Las Cruces and I kept my eye out for the place I was sure was a rock yard waiting for me. As we came upon the place, I told Gary to pull over and again Gary said, "That's not a rock place, it's abandoned". I said, "Then why does it have a chain link fence around it to protect it?" Anyway Gary waited in the car feeling sure I was on another wild goose chase and I got out to inspect a little further. I walked up to the fence and saw there were all kinds of rocks, polished gemstones, and fossils, just what I was looking for. A minute later a dog came running up and behind the dog ambled a wiry and weathered looking man.

Tiger Eye Vase by Linda Starr

Well it was indeed a rock yard and the man opened up the chain link fence and I spent several hours looking at all the gemstones displayed in small plastic bins which were brittle from the sun. I couldn't resist picking up a sample of each polished stone to admire it, thinking of how I could use it with my clay. As I found a particular stone I liked I set it aside in a pile to tally later. Meanwhile the rock man and Gary struck up a conversation because they could see I'd be there for quite a while admiring each stone for the beauty it revealed in it's surface. Another couple drove up in their new SUV and pressed jeans and started looking at the rocks. At one point they picked up one of the rocks in my pile and admired it. I said those are the ones I've picked out for me, so they put the rock down.

Jasper Bowl by Linda Starr

Later I was ready for my pile of rocks to be tallied and I discovered the one rock I liked the most, the one the couple had picked up, was missing. They had long since departed, not purchasing a single rock. The three of us, the rock man, Gary and I, all looked high and low for that rock and it was no where to be found. We later surmised the couple must have pocketed the rock. The man said that happened a lot, rocks went missing. I was incredulous someone would take the rock I had set aside, but devastated they would take a rock from a person who had so little. A person living in a run down trailer with nothing but rocks and a few lapidary tools to their name.

Terra Cotta Turquoise Basket by Linda Starr

My tally came to very little I thought and I asked the rock man his name, and he said Dan. I said, Dan the Rock Man, he said yep that's me. Then I realized I wouldn't know what type of rocks I had when I left. So I got my camera and placed each rock on a piece of paper and Dan told me the name of each rock and where he had gotten the stone, how it was formed, how old it was, and he told me so much more than I had ever known about rocks. Dan's clothes were worn and dirty, and he lived in a run down trailer, but I was truly amazed at the geological knowledge Dan had on the tip of his tongue. I realized Dan had fallen on hard times but he still had has love of rocks and his generosity. I'll never forget Dan, but I hope one day to forget how someone could take something from someone who gave so much for so little in return.

Every so often I dig in my stash of gemstones and make a pot thinking about what I got from Dan, wondering how it can be incorporated into my clay work. There's a little bit of me and a lot of Dan in each piece.


  1. Linda- there is always something about you that digs at my soul. You are one of those people who finds others interesting and does not just take what you need- there is a real balance in the give and take.
    Manny of us walk past people everyday without really getting to know them- you look deeper.
    I love that you have used the stones with your pottery.
    Are these fired in your new kiln?

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  3. sorry about the delet-pain pills.....

  4. The pieces with the rocks & such look good! How did you attach them? And that is sad to hear about the couple who (probably) stole your rock. The absolute lack of morals in some people never ceases to amaze me.

  5. What a great story. I always remember those odd people we meet and chat with on our trips. They enrich our lives in so many ways don't they?! The pieces with the stones are really great, wonderful idea!!

  6. thank you for sharing your lovely story.
    the papoose jar is my favorite!

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  8. What an adventure! And I particularly love "Gunmetal and Turquoise Basket".

  9. Every single pot is a gem in itself. I'm particularly smitten with the jasper bowl and the tiger eye vase. You travel with heart, just like you live. Love that you saw Dan, the Rock Man, really saw him. The other folks have their lessons to learn. This is a great post.

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  11. Hi Meredith, thanks, these were fired some time ago and a few recently I wanted to get a few together before I told the story of Dan.

    Hi Rob, thanks so much, yes very sad; I have left a comment on your blog.

    Hi Tracey, thanks, yes I was so happy to meet Dan and I was reminded how people each have their uniqness and gifts to give, it's just a matter of finding out what they are.

    Hi Michele, thanks, some of these pieces names are revealed after I make them. I like to think how the native americans used a papoose cradle to hold their infants.

  12. Hi Lori, thanks so much and thanks for visiting my blog, glad you enjoyed the story.

    Hi Teresa, thanks so much, it is amazing to me how a small detour in life can mean so much. Telling the story reminds me that I should take the time to talk to people more often as they are all so interesting and have their own stories to tell.

    Hi 陳芳, thanks so much.

  13. A tribute to nature and lived life found on your journey. Very beautiful
    Todo un homenaje a la naturaleza encontrada y a la vida vivida en tu viaje. Muy hermoso

  14. Linda - What an interesting post. You have a wonderful openness to the world and people, Linda. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

  15. Hi Manolo, thanks so much and thanks for visiting my blog.

    Hi Patricia, thanks so much, glad you enjoyed the story.


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