Thursday, May 15, 2008

Get Your Rocks Out

Dena Patterson, a resident of Brooksville, Florida, came across this rock in 1996 while walking through the woods in West Virginia, according to this Hernando Today report. Found near a stream, the rock caught her eye because of the shape worn into its surface. Recently, Patterson took the rock to Peter Harries, an associate professor of geology at the University of South Florida, Tampa. She had thought it was granite, but Harries thinks it is shale or silt stone – some sort of fine-grained sedimentary rock. He attributes the pattern to the “preferential cementation of grains, or water percolating through sediment after it has been deposited.”

Harries goes on to share that the geology department does get periodic visits from folks with objects “that they feel are particularly unique or symbolic.” His perspective, however, is more scientific than spiritual. The fact is, mimicry is a very salient aspect of nature, which of course leads to the phenomenon of pareidolia.

For years, the rock has been a doorstop in Patterson’s home, but now she wants to sell it on eBay: "I expect to get a lot of money . . . This is a rock. It's not like it's a piece of cheese.""

Of course, she is referencing fellow Floridian Diana Duyser’s epic Virgin Mary grilled cheese windfall, though I doubt Patterson will receive $28,000 for this object, especially in light of all the other Virgin Mary rocks currently up for grabs on eBay.

Like this one from Oregon:

Or this one from Canada:

Patterson is 79-years-old and says her health is declining. Her desire to make money off this rock is directly linked, as she tells it, to wanting to be able to make a trip to West Virginia to visit family before her health becomes any worse. Regardless of how much the rock sells for, if it even sells, I hope she gets the chance to make one more trip to West Virginia.

Lastly, in more news of the Virgin Mary showing up in unexpected places, the Los Angeles Times ran this slideshow recently. I can’t figure out why, but it’s just another indicator of how Madonna of the Toast is culturally relevant, in far-flung suburbs as well as in big cities.

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