Collecting Rocks

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Martin Hash
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Collecting Rocks

Post by Martin Hash » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:50 pm

I collected rocks as a young kid. Rocks were free and it's easy to tell one is different from another. By the time I was in First-grade, I had a plastic breadbag full of interesting rocks. I could identify granite and pumice, and I had a piece of obsidian someone had given me, but most of the rocks were an enigma, especially for a 6-year old. I would turn a rock around in my hand and try to match it to a picture book of rocks, but mine never seemed to look just like the one in the photos so I was never sure. First-graders aren't good judges of nuance.

One day I found out one of the kids in the class's father was a geologist. I knew that geologists knew about rocks so I asked the kid if his father would identify my rocks for me. The kid resisted but I was insistent, even bringing the breadbag to school and insistently thrusting it into his hands. He ultimately relented and took the bag home and that's when I really started in:
“Did your dad name my rocks yet?” I asked the next day.
“He's busy,” the kid said.
The next day I asked again, and the next, and the next. This went on for a while; I feel kind of embarassed about it now, but First-graders aren't good judges of nuance.
Eventually, defeated, the kid brought my bag of rocks to school and gave it to me. He didn't seem to happy or even relieved but I was estatic.
“I've got a lot more rocks!” I exclaimed.
The kid only said, “my dad says no more rocks,” and he walked away.
I wish that kid's dad knew how much pleasure I got out of reading the names he had written in on masking tape attached to each rock. One was even named, “ROCK?!” That one was my favorite. Eventually, I myself could identify basalt, and shale, and sandstone. I really love finding petrified wood even to this day. I saved egg cartons and painted them to put my rocks in. I had a lettering gun I'd used to title each egg hole of what kind of rock it contained. I showed my rock collection at school, and even got a “participation” ribbon that made me very proud. Whenever I'd go someplace new with people, like Boy Scouts, or a visit to a National Park, and someone would ask what I liked best about it, I'd say, “The rocks.” That always got a funny look but even as a Fifth-grader, I wasn't a good judge of nuance.

Egg Carton Rock Collection.jpg

I've kept my rock collection going all these years. When my grandfather died, he left me a piece of uranium ore with green sheen from his mining claim in Utah. I've always meant to have it geiger-countered to see how much radiation it's putting out? I moved up to Vancouver, Washington the year Mt. St. Helens erupted and one of my prized positions is some of the ash. I buy meteorites whenever I find them at collectible shows, and keep my eye open in quirky gift shops for enticing specimens. Recently, I hid a rock from Easter Island in my shoe to bring home, and also smuggled out some odd splash-looking mineral from a long dormant Chilean volcano. Sometimes I just buy the rocks already framed and hang them on the wall. I'd already started a rock collection of colorful polished stones for my first grandson even before he was born.

Pouch for Grandson.jpg
Mt. St. Helen's Ash.jpg
Chilean Volcanic Rocks.jpg
Framed Rocks.jpg
Enticing Specimens.jpg
Cumbe Mayo, Peru.jpg
Easter Island.jpg
Greek Volcanic Pumice.jpg

Finally, I'm nuanced enough to I regret never saying thank you to that kid in the First-grade's dad; his act of harassed kindness enabled a lifetime of rock collecting.
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Re: Collecting Rocks

Post by Montegriffo » Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:13 am

I've got a small collection of stone chips from castles I've visited.
I never take a chip from a wall even if it is completely loose but pick them up from the floor at the foot of a wall.
Most of the Cumbrian castles are made from the same red sandstone but the Northumbrian ones were much harder granites as were those in North Wales.
I intend to make a display case so I can put them on a wall, maybe with a picture of the castle they came from.
At the moment they are still in the labelled bags I put them in when I collected them.
For legal reasons, we are not threatening to destroy U.S. government property with our glorious medieval siege engine. But if we wanted to, we could. But we won’t. But we could.