Henry Barwood, Troy, Alabama
Martha and Ed Cunningham organized the meeting some years back and it has grown into a major southeastern micromount conference.
It is normally scheduled for the last Saturday in February, but over the years micro enthusiasts have arrived earlier and earlier. This year was no exception. I headed for the meeting on Wednesday, February 25, but my truck literally died just south of Troy and I didn't make it down until Thursday afternoon.
All but one of the 16 participants had arrived by Thursday and everyone was busy examining give-away material and swapping minerals and stories.
We always have a lot of give-away material and this year seemed exceptional. Jason Smith sent down several flats of Foote Mine phosphates (unfortunately Jason and Mandy couldn't make the meeting this year). Don Reems brought numerous egg cartons of Graves Mountain material. Bill Lechner brought several flats of Francon Quarry specimens. I supplied some syenite pegmatite material from 3M and Jones Mill in Arkansas.
Martha Cunningham always sees that there are lots of treats and drinks available during the meeting and I suspect that most of the attendees gain weight as a result! Thursday afternoon Martha presented Jimmy Sheehan with a special award for his cookies. Each year Jimmy brings down homemade cookies that are incredibly delicious. Thursday evening Bill Lechner presented an impromptu program on MSH that everyone enjoyed.
Friday morning all but the die-hard micromounters took a "cruise" on the Suwannee River. The afternoon was devoted to sorting through the remaining give-away material, and discussions of the identity of various specimens. Our program organizer, Julian Gray was the last participant to arrive that evening.
The "official" program began at 9AM Saturday morning. Bill Lechner presented a great program on the minerals found at the Francon Quarry. His images illustrated the excellent micromounts that were found at this once prolific collecting location. Bill also brought in more specimens from Francon for the give-away tables.
After the presentation, we had a wonderful lunch served up in the meeting room, and then Julian gave a presentation on the status of the Tellus Museum. The expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum has been extremely successful and attendance at the museum is way up.
The last program, by Earl English, was an impressive viewing of minerals mounted from the give-away tables at previous meetings.
Bad weather began to move in Saturday evening and the meeting broke up early, around 9:30PM, so that everyone could pack up before thunderstorms arrived later that evening.
The meeting continued the trend of being very relaxed, providing excellent material from the give-away tables, and providing excellent programs. I think every attendee is already signed up for next year. If you are reading this and have never been to the Winter Gathering, you should make plans to go next year.
Professor of Science, Earth Sciences
Department of Math and Physics
Troy, Alabama 36082