For the Love of Rocks


My parents took my three brothers and me to just about every state or national park from Texas up to Minnesota and across the entire eastern map of the U.S. As I recall forty three  state stickers were plastered to the back of the old pop-up camper. Purchasing the stickers at Stuckey’s became integral to the race to compile more stickers than any other camper. This was before “Survivor” type reality TV. No one was going to vote us off the campsite if we didn’t reach yet another far-off place during our usual two-week summer vacation. But my parents were fiercely competitive in their camping mode. Some states we visited multiple times, of course, because we had to get from here to there, and we usually took a different route from there to here.

This isn’t a travel blog.

Every other year our destination was Iowa, to visit the relatives, and every OTHER year it was North Carolina. Cherokee, North Carolina to be specific. We all loved the Smoky Mountains National Park. Something for everyone there. Fishing, hiking, swimming, wading across slimy rocks in swift, freezing water, drinking same water and coming down with the terrible heebie-jeebies, and watching Native American dances in town.

From each park I took, okay,  I stole a rock or two. Once I stole a frog. It was a huge green bull frog. The only reason I got that frog from Tennessee to Texas was because my mother never knew I had it in the car’s backseat until we arrived home. I was not allowed to keep him in my bedroom.

The frog got away.

The rocks from all over the US, I kept. I rearrange nature.

Weirdly, I was born loving rocks. Or dirt. Maybe mud. Definitely bugs. And usually snakes. Perhaps from watching my older brother. He was a digger. I am a digger. He went into landscape architecture. I am a master gardener. At least that is a good cover.  The truth is I believe in hidden treasure. So I keep digging.

Anyways, I grew up watching him, and wanting to be like him and have his stuff. He had a chemistry set. I wasn’t to touch it. Did you know chemistry sets have gum arabic? Did you know that gum arabic doesn’t have any flavor? He had a rock collection. One that he carefully compiled over years of saving to buy the bits glued to cardboard squares with their proper names in stiff typeset. I wasn’t to touch it. I especially liked the fool’s gold. I think I still have that one.

My personal assemblage of stone amounted to some weight as we visited a lot of parks and this collection process spanned many years. I kept them at my parents home hidden-in-plain-sight in the “rock” garden until I had a house and room for them. Much to my husbands despair I carted them around move after move. I used the rocks as decoration or as garden borders. About seven years ago we sold our house so quickly – it was such a shock because houses weren’t selling then either – that I wasn’t prepared. I forgot the rocks. The majority of them are still there in Sugar Land, Texas.

So this is much ablog about nothing.

But as an aside. I still have a large beach pebble from Maine (a gift from a friend), a lightening-glass chunk in turquoise (see movie: Sweet Home Alabama), an illegal stalactite (no, really, I took it before the laws), slate pebbles from the beaches of West Cornwall, England, some sandstone from West Texas, and I even took a stone from the mountain top where Ronald Reagan’s Presidential library sits. I’m really surprised that I got away with that. I did do a little surreptitious thing with my jacket and bending to “tie” my shoe. You see I had already been caught sitting on RR’s saddle and wearing his hat. (Wow. Stop! Within seconds we men in dark coats surrounded us. “The sign says ‘don’t touch’.”) I really had not seen the sign. I just wanted to pose for the pictures my mortified husband was taking. Unfortunately the camera was broken. Who knew? We took a lot of pictures we didn’t know we weren’t taking. I would never be able to show the pictures of me wearing the gipper’s hat and sitting on the worn-out saddle draped on the saw-horse? I do not lie. It happened.

This is the beginning of my new collection.

So for all of those who LOVE rocks as I do – rock on!

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