There is an amusing recurrence at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. Every week, without fail, at least one impatient child can be heard pleading with their parent, “Can we please go visit the rock guy now?”
They’re referring to Don’s Rocks and Wood. The rock guy? That’s Don Daman, now in his ninth season as a SFAM vendor.
It’s fair to say he’s generated quite the following for his diverse offerings of rocks, minerals, gems and petrified wood — a collection amassed over six decades of rockhounding.
Daman marks his first discovery at 5 years old. On a vacation to Pacific Beach, he unearthed a piece of petrified wood.
“It was only about four inches long,” Daman recalls. “But I packed that thing along with me in my pocket for years.”
Daman has lived in Clallam County for the majority of his life, working as a millwright at the Port Angeles paper mill and retiring after 42 years.
Between working hard and providing for his family, Daman always found the time to rockhound.
On long exploration trips, or even the occasional weekend excursion, Daman made it a priority to visit the nation’s most renowned rockhounding sites, unearthing unique treasures to add to his collection.
In Eastern Washington resides rich caches of Daman’s favorite specimen.
“My favorite rock is petrified wood,” he says. “Every state in the union has some sort of petrified wood. There are so many varieties and colors. Some of the original species of trees that produced the wood are even extinct now.”
The most colorful wood comes from Arizona. They call it rainbow wood. After the wood rots away and the liquid silica fills the void, whatever minerals are remaining create the different colors. Copper makes green, manganese is red, and so on.”
Daman takes special care to ensure each rock is methodically sanded with three different grits and buffed to a glossy polish, highlighting the unique qualities of each piece, and preserving the memories and special trips they represent.
“After I polish the rock, the beauty comes out,” Daman says. “Nature produces a lot of beauty, I think. You see it most of all in the rocks.”
He adds, No two rocks are alike; they’re all so different. You should see my cases. I think they’re nothing but beautiful.”
Is the beauty that Daman sees reflected in the sheen of each rock the same beauty that captivates the kids? Is it the mesmerizing quality that captures the interest of young market guests, relentlessly begging to swing by the collection week after week?
When presented with the suggestion, Daman chuckles.
“Well, it could be,” he says. “But it’s more likely the fact that I give them each a free rock every time they come by.”
Visit Don’s Rocks and Wood every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market, located at Sequim Civic Center plaza.
Emma Jane Garcia is Marketing Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. See www.sequimmarket.com.