Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I collect rocks.
Yeah, you read right...I said rocks. Not extravagantly rare ones, in fact most of them are just your everyday garden variety picked up from the side of the road.
"Why?" you ask. Hmmm...I am not exactly sure, but my mom and I had a conversation about this a few years ago. She talked about being drawn to rocks that resonate on the same frequency that she does. She may have something there. For me though I think its really that I love the history that lives in rocks.
A rock can have history?
Think of how long it took that chip of quartz or chunk of basalt to work its way to the surface from deep within the earth. Think of the hundreds of thousands of years it has been travelling around the world. Its not such a far-fetched idea, scientists recently discovered that the rock bed of Loch Ness is from the same rock formation that created the Catskill Mountains on our eastern coast (plate techtonics....what an amazing thing, but don't get me started on THAT subject!) Rocks from the time of Christ are still lying around....some rocks even have dinosaur fossils embedded in them!
Which brings me to my collection. A lot of my rocks (as I mentioned before) have no real special "wow factor"....I have a few fossil pieces and some petrified wood, but most of it is fairly run-of-the-mill. I even brought a small box of rocks with me from Washington (as a small aside: Jason, I didn't lie when you helped me move down here...that wasn't a box of rocks you were carrying...the "rock box" was actually in my hands when you asked that question).
I have rocks on my desk and file cabinet at work; on the dashboard, floor and in the trunk of my car; there's a few tumbling around in the bottom of my purse, and I have a small "rock garden" in the base of my computer monitor at work (which has a handy half-circle opening at its base)...not to mention the rocks I have around my bedroom at home, and still more in a box that I haven't unpacked from my last move.
I have rocks that have special meaning to me...rocks from the graves of beloved pets, rocks from the cemetary where my grandparents and baby brother are buried, rocks from trips (and side trips!) along with a few rocks from my visit to the temple last November. I went nuts at a cousin's wedding where she decorated with stones on the tables and was thrilled when I was allowed to take a small handful away with me afterwards (yes I am talking about you Dani!)
Over the years I have received pretty much the same response from people just discovering my hobby. Its pretty much a pause in the conversation, accompanied by a funny look and then I am asked why I would find that interesting. Once I explain about the whys and the wherefores (always adding that it is a hobby that hurts no one and costs nothing!)something amazing happens. Conversations eventually end (as they always do) and we will go onto whatever we have next on our agenda...but I often find the next time I see that person that they will have a rock for me.
I now have rocks from a bosses' vacation to Jerusalem and Bethlehem; rocks from a friend's favorite bay in Alaska; rocks from the bottom of mines, sea beds and craters. Rocks from both the Pacific and Atlantic shores, as well as a funky green-streaked chunk of mica that my boss spotted piled next to a busy road in Mexico (he says he pretty much screeched to a stop in his rental truck, jumped out to grab me a piece and then hopped back in the rig). I have been told stories of concern that luggage was going to weigh too much and of rocks being carried in carry-on bags.
I have also learned just how much people care about me. Time and again I have been told how this person specifically hunted around to find me "just the right stone".
I have had friends voice concerns over being able to get me a present for holidays or birthdays and reassured them that all they need to do is find me a rock. Yup, the same strange looks are given, but I have often found that the rock they found for me was more apreciated than a lot of the other purchased prezzies I was given (no offense to anyone who has given me purchased stuff!) The best part is that they are usually accompanied by a confession that, once the person got into the spirit of the thing, that they actually had fun on their rock hunt. People spotting me picking up rocks will often ask curiously what I was picking up and often go away with a smile when they hear my silly little story.
Its not all sunshine and roses; I have had a few bad reactions to my collection. People have been condescending and said mean jokes about it (people I am no longer friends with, but that is for a whole other reason), and I have had people show exasperation when I pause in public to snatch up a pebble (apparently its embarrasing to some people to be seen doing something not considered "normal"). I have had people rearrange stones on my desk, or even take a few thinking I would never notice (I always do). I think the best example of this would be a gal who was accompanying me to Vegas for a trade show....my boss was driving us down to help set up and then he was going to fly home, leaving us the truck to drive back in after we finished the show.
Dan couldn't wait for me to see the canyon south of St George and kept talking about it miles before we were even there. We hit the canyon and my jaw dropped....for those who have not seen this marvel, it is sheer rock faced cliffs and gullies and absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous. My friend said something catty to Dan about watching out because I will be asking him to stop any second now so I can collect a rock and how he'd better not do it. Bless his heart but he immediately pulled over, hopped out of the truck, and started up the slope next to the road because (as he put it) he was sure he'd just spotted the perfect rock for me. This gal sat in disbelief as Dan encouraged me to hop out, take my time and be sure to find the rock that I really wanted.
Of course it has also taken a life of its own....Dan and Bill (respectively my bosses) now grab me rocks from all of their trips. Dan had to top himself by grabbing a box while he was in Orlando and dumped in sand, shells and rocks from a beach near his hotel, even wading out into the surf to collect a floating coconut! He then shipped everything to me UPS overnight rather than try to carry it all home (or try to explain to airline security why he just had to bring home his homemade "beach-in-a-box).
I have decorated with rocks for so long now that I can't see myself in a home without a few rocks strewn around. I stumbled across a picture last year of a gal who had an interesting collection of smooth river rocks across her mantlepiece...looking like modern sculpture. I tore the picture out of that magazine, drooling with envy over how amazing it looked and promising myself that someday I too would have such a mantlepiece arrangement.
Funny hobby? Maybe...but as I said before its a cheap hobby, infinately satisfying and, for the most part, pretty darn unique.