There’s a rock in my backyard, a big mysterious pinkish rock that has a story to tell. It came with the property. And I’m pretty positive that one of the previous homeowners picked it up and dragged it home with the feeling that they’d made an important discovery. They were likely intrigued or inspired by it and determined to know its story. I know this because that’s how it has been with me and my rock discoveries. This is how it goes with rock lovers.
My love for rocks began when I was a child when my family traveled west on vacation. I was overcome with a curiosity for rocks I saw in clear mountain streams or glistening along a path. I’d heard about the Colorado gold rush, and we were passing through Colorado on the way to my uncle’s home in Utah. I was sure I could find gold, too, if allowed. But instead, what I found was pyrite, also known as “fool’s gold,” which pleased me every bit as much as any gold could. Throughout that trip, I picked up all sorts of rocks in all sizes and squirreled them away beneath the front seats of our family’s car, to the point that my father began to complain that he could feel sizeable rocks beneath his driver’s seat. At one point, he reached under the seat, pulled out some rather large rocks I’d collected, and told me not to pick up any more enormous stones, for they would eventually weigh down the car. It was hard to stop, for I had discovered granite, quartz, mica, and more! And I’ve never stopped loving rocks.
To this day, I still need to stop at rock shops on our travels. I recently dragged my husband to a rock and gem show on one of February’s last cold wintry days. It was a fabulous escape on a windy, grey day. We watched rockhounds crack open geodes and entered a little black tent to see rocks and minerals that glowed in the dark with neon colors. We examined petrified wood and pondered wondrous fossilized fish and insects.
Apparently, the gene for rock-loving has been passed on to my family. When Katie, my daughter, was small, I took her to a park for a hike in the woods. We only had an hour to explore before we needed to be elsewhere. I had looked forward to some time on a forest path, but instead, we spent 45 minutes in the freshly graveled parking lot, where she discovered a cache of crinoid stems – which we picked by the handfuls to take home. I also remember her spending her birthday money and allowance on coprolites and minerals at flea market rock and gem booths. My granddaughter, Jaycie, also loves rocks and has begun a small collection. Her stepfather, Reid, knows of a secret place along a creek filled with geodes, and he takes her and her mother to collect them occasionally. As a result, they have some rather spectacular specimens lined up along the steps of their porch and in the kitchen and laundry room windows of their home.
Children are naturally drawn to rocks. They love to climb them, build imaginary worlds with them, throw them at targets, and plunk them in the water. At the end of my block is a small park with a creek running through the center. The stream is lined with rocks to help control erosion. Every day, when a nearby school lets out, numerous children can be scattered up and down the stream, climbing the rocks, searching for treasures, and discovering Mother Nature’s rocky mysteries.
Rock collecting is also a fabulous hobby for families to enjoy together. The quest to find different rocks from different regions of the country makes for some exciting adventures and teaches us about the diversity of the landscape. In addition, learning about geological forces behind rock formations helps us understand Earth’s processes over time and view the miraculous results with enlightened eyes.
This month, I’ve reviewed What Can You Do with a Rock? by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Katie Kath. You can read more about it under Recommended Reads.
And for a rock-related craft activity, check out my rock collage pictures in the Activities section of my blog.