It’s summertime in Saskatchewan and that means it is prime rock-collecting weather for young children everywhere. Ahhh, the rock collection…. I mean, who didn’t collect rocks as a kid? I had my little red Edwards coffee tin of rocks carefully stowed in my parents’ garage just like everyone else. Consequently, it’s only fair that my own kids have picked up the endearing little habit and have been collecting precious pebbles in their own coffee cans, plastic containers and even Ziploc bags for the last few years. My one son especially loves his rocks and I often come into the kitchen to find his entire collection laid out on my heirloom dining table, sorted into piles according to shape, size and colour. He has a keen eye for spotting petrified wood in particular, and my flower pots and flower beds are almost overflowing with all of his findings.
When I think of the numerous adventures (or misadventures) that my mom has had with rocks I realize that collecting them might be hereditary, a genetic predisposition that perhaps skips a generation. My mom and son share the same enthusiasm towards a good sedimentary specimen and she “ooh’s and aah’s” more than most over my son’s latest discoveries. Together, they paw over the goods and as I listen to them, I realize I had better make room for many more rocks that are likely to find their way to our humble homestead. I’ve seen this behaviour before.
Mom’s interest in rocks, and dirt for that matter, seemed to evolve from a young age. She started out making mud pies and ended up with a degree in soil science, collecting more than a few stones along the way. For one particular geology lab she had to purchase a rock specimen collection and packed it to school. After accidentally leaving her sack of rocks on the bus, the driver called her back to retrieve what he must have thought was the World’s Heaviest Lunch Bag.
As a rock hound, mom would always keep an eye out for the most unique varieties on our farm, especially a nice chunk of petrified wood. Each spring my family would drive up and down our fields methodically, picking rocks into the back of the truck box and dumping them all on the rock pile. All except for a few gems that my mom had discovered and had to bring back home to place in her garden or somewhere special.
My mom liked to collect rocks from the many places she visited and didn’t let the law get in her way. Once, on a trip to a National Park (that shall remain nameless), we stopped by the side of the road along a mountain pass and she walked to a nearby pile of rock rubble. Finding a nice rock, she thought nothing of loading into the vehicle with us to add to her collection back at home. Upon her return to the truck, there was a note on the windshield from someone reminding her that removing rocks from a park was an illegal activity. Oops.
Mom even bought a box of rocks at a farm auction one time. Paying a sum of $1, mom became the proud owner of someone else’s lifetime rock collection, and I must say it is a beautiful collection. The original curator was a trapper who spent many years out on the prairie. Each of his rocks were unique and beautiful and I’m sure they all would have had a special story attached to them.
My little boy comes by his love for rocks honestly and I can only hope he stays on the right side of the law to acquire them. Watching my mom and her grandson discuss the fine attributes of his latest rock discovery is another example of how you can find beauty all around us if you have the right attitude.
Some people pick rocks, and some people choose them.