Mr. Hawthorne pulled out all the stops for me on this trip. We're at Fairy Stone State Park and we're searching for Fairy Stones. (Remember, we're still killing time before meeting up with his family for lunch.)
This is what the gravelly, pebbly area looks like. Best time to look for Fairy Stones is after a heavy rain, according to Mr. Hawthorne. He took the Little Hawthornelets here years ago and they had a wonderful time searching and finding these little gems I had a quart jar in their bedroom full of Fairy Stones they'd found. Then one day. the boys had a friend over who dumped the entire jar down the hole in the wall the door handle made when it was slammed open and broke the stop.
We didn't have but a few minutes to hunt, but we did find a few pieces in various stages of formation.
Fairy Stones are stauralites, a combination of silica, iron, and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, hence the cross-like structure. Fairy Stone State Park is one of the few places in the world where these unique formations are found. They are found elsewhere, but not in such abundance as at Fairy Stone State Park. Found only in rocks which were once subjected to great heat and pressure, this mineral was formed eons ago during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains. The stones are most commonly shaped like St. Andrew's cross, an "X", but "T" shaped Roman crosses and square Maltese crosses are the most sought after.
Of course, there's a legend behind the Fairy Stones. Hundreds of years before King Powhatan's dynasty came into power, fairies were dancing around a spring of limpid water, playing with the wood nymphs and naiads, as they are wont to do, when an elfin messenger arrived from a strange city, far, far away, in the land of the dawn, bringing sad tidings of the death of Christ. According to legend, when the fairies heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept. And as their tears fell upon the earth, they were crystallized into little pebbles, each in the shape of a cross. The fairies disappeared from the enchanted spot and the ground around the spring and the adjacent valley were strewn with these unique mementoes of that melancholy event. For more than a century, many people have held these little stone crosses in superstitious awe, believing them to be good luck charms and believing they will protect the wearer against witchcraft, sickness, accidents, and disasters.
So I guess I'm good to go.