"Soon, anthropomorphic features came to it. Two crystals - two people in a dance supporting one another. I wrote what I saw in Haiku and there it began."

I have collected minerals since I was three. I took on the lapidary arts by putting rocks into the washer and dryer. This had mixed results.

My first real field collecting experience was with the Chugach Gem and mineral society in Alaska. I was eleven. We had a field trip scheduled in the dead of winter requiring the need for snowshoes to trek to the collecting site that was a cliff wall of rocks next to a frozen river. Club members gathered on the clear river ice eager to start digging into the bank. It was cold as hell but at that moment I understood something greater which was the adventure and the hunt of finding something beautiful in the ground.

Or not...

The best discovery on that trip were the frozen moose droppings I found on the snow on my trek back to the truck. The rock was difficult to work. I wore no cleats like other club members so; I fought myself from uncontrollably skating and turning circles out to the middle of the river ice. However, I identified with the people on that field trip. They were lively and enjoyed being outdoors. They liked to collect rocks just like me.

At that time my father was a bush pilot working in many of the remote Eskimo villages in Alaska. I spent many summers traveling with him to these places gathering and looking for rocks whenever I got the chance. Being in this environment had a profound effect on how I saw the world. In contrast, I grew up in Carmel California - a very different place from Alaska

So why Haiku's?...

The inherent aesthetic beauty of minerals and rocks and the processes that form them captivated my imagination. I saw the relationship of the intricate beauty in the smallest crystal to the snowy mountain ridges of Attu on the Aleutian Islands. Collecting minerals brings out the hearness in life. It is always the hunt and the anticipation of getting there that drives my longing to dig.

Over time, collecting became a meditation. As I dug I followed the rock for mineralization while at the same time I worked through a piece of music I was composing for my teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. However, once I was "in the zone" and opened a pocket I got completely present and the chase was on.

This one occasion I collected a pyrite from the Carson Hill Mine that I trimmed in the field with a sledgehammer! I couldn't believe the luck - it was a very aesthetic piece. I put it on the shelf with my other specimens. I kept coming back to the piece looking at it - the balance and the form -- the color -- the complexity of the crystals but there was something else in the piece I couldn't describe but knew it was there.

Soon anthropomorphic features came to it. Two crystals - two people in a dance supporting one another. I wrote what I saw in Haiku and there it began.

Writing Haiku's for my mineral specimens is a process of creating meaning and capturing a moment in life that is beyond words. It is a meditation. It has taken me years to assemble this collection - I never really know when I will see a specimen that inspires a Haiku. Each piece is truly unique. And the collection is not based on its market value. Some of the specimens however are significant on their own merits of aesthetics, rarity, location, and crystal form. In the haiku gallery each mineral specimen is appreciated as a piece of artwork by destination.

A haiku mineral "pops" and reveals deeper meaning - I used to refer to it as the "it" factor or as Jack Halpern, a well known mineral collector described it: the "wow" factor. The specimen moves you emotionally. It becomes a conversation

Len Pisciotta, len@haikuminerals.com
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