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Recent Activities -Trip to Poland, July, 2014


As you may know, I recently released a CD recording of mineral collecting and mining songs called "Nuggets and High Grade". As a result, I have been performing the songs here and there at mineral shows, various mineral club meetings and other venues. This past summer, Tomasz Praskier, of Spirifer Minerals, invited me to visit Poland for two reasons; to perform my mineral and mining songs at his and Asia's wedding party and to perform the songs at "Crystal Days", the large gem and mineral show -turned regional summer fair, at Lwowek Slaski in south-western Poland. How could I refuse?! Here are some pictures and anecdotes from that trip. It is largely about music but there are some photo's of great Polish mineral specimens, as well.

The "Crystal Days" gem and mineral show and regional fair takes place in the village of Lwowek Slaski, in south-western Poland, not far from the border with Germany. During a week in July, much of the downtown is cordoned off to make way for gem and mineral sales booths, food concessions, a giant stage, dozens of activities and the tens of thousands of visitors who flock to the event. This is a view of the main street behind the road block, as people get ready to set up booths. The Town Hall that you can see in the picture is the centre of activities for the gem and mineral show.

Lwowek Slaski is a very old town that still has an intact wall that surrounds the original town. The original wall was erected in 1261 and remnants of various generations of the wall., plus four stone towers, are there to be seen today.

Immediately upon arrival, I needed to rehearse with local musician and performer Rafal. We had sent each other our music ahead of time and we rehearsed for a couple of days in a room in the 16th century old Town Hall. Note the unique sandstone arches in this room in this magnificent building. The torture chamber and dungeon through that door behind me!

Tomasz(Tomek) and Asia were married in a civil ceremony in a wonderful wood-paneled room in the old Town Hall. You can see Asia(white dress) and Tomek amongst the many dozens of witnesses at the ceremony.

The wedding party/celebration was at the site of an old quarry outside of Lwowek Slaski. You'd never know that it was a quarry, since it is overgrown with woods and vegetation. Just before the reception began, a "Walonian" wedding ceremony was held including torch-light procession and presentation of hats to the wedded couple. All done by torch-light. Very dramatic. Then the music and partying began!

Tomek and Asia had a giant marquis tent erected in a field in the old quarry to shelter guests from rain(which did not happen in the end). At one end of the tent was food preparation and serving which involved copious quantities of sausages, kapusta, stews, perogies and other hearty fare. Also in the tent, along one side of the back wall were stations offering unlimited vodka(including Krupnik!), beer and wine. Nobody was wanting that night.

Did I mention that there were LOTS of sausages?! (M. Mauthner photo)

The wedding was attended by mineralogically luminous guests from around the world. Here are a few: L-R John Veevaert (USA), Peter Lykberg (Sweden) and Malcolm Southwood (Australia). Fun was had by all!

Of course, aside from participating in the wedding party fun, my job was to play music with Rafal. We were joined by Tomek's brother-in-law, Marcin Markowicz, who is a professional violinist with the Warsaw Symphony Orchestra. He was great and provided great accompaniment for some of my songs!

As it turns out Marcin's sister Anna Markowicz also attended the wedding party. She is an actress in the Polish National Theatre Company and has a wonderful voice. We accompanied her on some Polish folk songs that she sang for the gathering. She was amazing!

Bread has a special place in the "Crystal Days" celebration. There are loaves of bread everwhere! They are used for various purposes during the show and festival.

The opening ceremony included speeches and pageantry, including the Bread Ceremony where a respected local woman presented the Mayor with a special loaf of bread to commemorate the beginning of the show. Many of the participants dress up as Walonians for the ceremonyies. According to legend, Walonians came to the area many years ago in search of precious stones. This search is a main theme of Crystal Days.

Rafal and I also donned Walonian garb to perform right after the opening ceremonies, on the same stage as the ceremonies, at street level. How do I look as a harmonica-playing Walonian?

Rafal, his son and I performed, in Walonian garb, on the main stage of the festival on Saturday. I'm not sure if people understood all of the words but they likes "Damn the Glaciers" a lot! Ronna Jewett Photo

That was one BIG stage! There are lots of agate lovers at this show and they seemed to enjoy "Agate Lickers". Ronna Jewett Photo

Here I am on one of the jumbo-trons wailing out my song "Agate Lickers" on harmonica. Ronna Jewett Photo

Speaking of agates, there were some great displays of agates from this region, on display during the show.

A nice amethyst-lined agate nodule about 95mm across.

A beautifully banded 150mm diameter agate nodule from nearby agate fields.

Another beautiful agate, about 75mm across.

I really enjoyed the display of specimens featuring stalactitic barite coated by golden marcasite from the Lubin Glowny Mine. This specimen is about 220mm across.

This wonderful, 120mm tall cleavage mass of native bismuth was the sole specimen found in a calcite-sulphide vein in Poland. Sorry, I forgot to record the actual location name!

A wonderful20mm crystal of hauerite from Machow Poland. Who knew that such great crystals of this minerals came from that location?!

This was one of my favourite specimens in the Spirifer Geological Society Collection exhibits at Crystal Days. A beautiful wavelite specimen about 120mm across.

The Stregom area hosts granite with pegmatitic and miarolitic cavities that can produce superb mineral specimens. Here are some and some other specimens, as well.

Anyone would be proud to find or display this wonderful fluorite crystal specimen, 80mm across, from Stregom. The fluorite is associated with stilbite on feldspar.

I love this specimen! A perfect smoky quartz crystal wit ha halo of golden stilbite crystals from Stregom. It is about 70mm tall.

Unusual, superb pseudomorphs of cerussite after phosgenite. They are small, mostly under 20mm but really special.

Remember we used to see lots of these octahedral galena on sphalerite specimens from Machow, years ago. I haven't seen many for a long time. Here is a nice 160mm specimen.

Poland is famous for it's salt mines but we do not usually see many specimens from there. Here are some awesome ones! The specimen in the centre of the image, from Klodawa is about 280mm long!

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