Saturday, March 19th, eleven members of the Kettle Moraine Geological Society drove to Wausau and set about “Moonwalking” around the rural countryside. This is not a 1980’s dance move; but rather as in walking around on a warm, sunny spring day searching for “Moonstones”.
About a year ago KMGS friend and supporter William Schoenfuss invited us to scour a field for “Anorthoclase” or more commonly known as “Wisconsin Moonstone”. We feel quite privileged and grateful to be able to scout about in search of some specimens. Out of respect for the Landowners; and our guide’s wishes; we can only have access to the area from the time the frost leaves the ground until the alfalfa crop starts to green up. Luckily the narrow window of opportunity was in sync with a warm sunny spring day making the event a pleasurable excursion.
I am told there is only about a four square mile area in North America where these rare geological gemstone specimens can be found; formed billions of years ago when the volcanoes of North America were still forming the continent, (Day 3 in Genesis), long before the glaciers or the ice ages had taken place. Wisconsin Moonstone is a little known; but very much appreciated native gemstone. It is has similar characteristics to labradorite as the sheen is only visible when turned to allow the light shine upon it in low light or UV exposure, but is quite striking when it’s lustrous blue hue catches your eye as the sunlight lights it up.
The frost naturally brings the specimens to the surface and some are found just lying on the rain eroded surface. Others lie just below the surface and can be found by tapping the ground with a scratching tool, until you hear the distinctive “clink” of contact with the stone. Then careful excavating being cautious to not to disturb the alfalfa roots or excessively damage the surrounding area, as you look for chips, pebbles or even a fist sized rock containing the shiny prize. You have to keep in mind this is a field that will be harvested in just weeks, and to be respectful to the landowner, you want to remove any unwanted stones from the field, fill in your holes and level any soil before you move on to another site. You don’t want to lose access to a prime site, because a stone dug up and discarded, causes damage to hay harvesting equipment later costing the landowner repair costs and down-time during harvest season. Always remember to be respectful and appreciate the privilege.
Our group of eleven spent the afternoon walking, digging, scratching and brushing stones in search if the elusive prize. As expected we had varying degrees of success. Mary and I picked a five gallon bucket about three quarters full of specimens, which we now need to wash, clean the iron stains off and sort. We found two very nice pieces we may turn into jewelry, a few more for display and the rest still to be determined. Afterwards some of us met up at The Texas Roadhouse in Wausau for dinner and enjoying conversation before driving home again.
It was a fine sunny spring day and the perfect way to begin the rock-hunting season. Our deepest thanks to Bill Schoenfuss for his time, generosity and support; and the same to Thomas Bucholtz, and for both of them spending the day sharing their knowledge and expertise, and making our day a success and memory!