LC Van Savage
Rocks I’ve Known And Loved
I’ve always kind of resented the phrase “dumb as a box of rocks.” It’s not that I think boxes, pails or bowls of rocks are especially smart. It’s that I own boxes of rocks. Loads of them, and I’m proud to know I have tiny pieces of real estate from all over the USA and from a couple of European countries and even Canada, Mexico and California. OK, I know California isn’t officially a foreign country, but it’s all in how you look at it.
It was on a trip to California where I began this hobby of stealing geography from everywhere. My father decided in the early fifties that it would be educational for us to all drive to California, we three kids stuffed into the back seat of a convertible, Buick I think. Green for sure, and small? Like a plastic lined hotbox with zero legroom. No AC. It was a horror. We fought and screamed and punched our way across the fruited plains, paying not one scintilla of attention to America’s grandeur, reading comic books when we weren’t kicking each other bloody. My father got us to the Pacific Ocean, we glared at it, said “so what?” he wheeled the green convertible around, pointed it due east and got back to NY in less than 3 days. When we pulled into our driveway we kids exploded out of the back seat of that green meat wagon from hell like shots from a cannon, grateful to be free and vowing to research the how-to’s of getting ourselves adopted.
But what I did every time we passed through a different state was to get out of the car and grab a small rock on which I wrote the state’s name and date, and hauled them all home, sneaking them into the overstuffed trunk of that beleaguered Buick. And I still have them, plus lots and lots more rocks from many other places, onto which I’ve painted the place and date of finding it. Mongo never catches me sneaking them into the house. I spy a rock, instantly know it’s “the” rock, scoop it up and get it home, washed, labeled and into a box before he can catch me at it. Mongo is not overly fond of this hobby of mine. Doesn’t see much sense in it.
Some of my pet rocks live with me simply because they’re beautiful. I have loads of magic rocks; you know what they are—rocks with a ring of different colored rock in it somewhere. Everyone collects those. When I see them in people’s homes I get very jealous but never have the courage to ask if the owners would consider letting them live here with Mongo and me. Well, with me.
You’ve got to respect rocks. I mean look at their places in history. They’ve been put into border walls, fireplaces, walls of houses, pathways, places of worship. They were the earliest of weapons, David allegedly felled poor old Goliath with one well aimed, they’re brought back from planets, and of course, rocks have killed people for thousands of years as punishment for offending someone, some religion or some doctrine and this practice alas, still goes on today. And then there was that great glass house/rock story, remember?
But think of it. You hold a rock in your hand and you might be holding a mountain. Because it is small today doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mighty mesa in its prime. Hold a rock and you hold world history. Do it. Feel it. Stare at it. Listen to it. They all have stories, you know. And, rocks never die.
What will happen to my large collection of rocks from everywhere when I shuffle off this mortal rock? I’m hoping our sons will set them free somewhere, and maybe someone will find one with my painted story on it, and will take it home.
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