Sunday, September 16, 2012

Diary of a Rock Collector

I am not a geologist, but I collect rocks. Grade 11 Geology was intriguing, and the nasally way my teacher said igneous, basalt and obsidian made the course all the more entertaining. Even as a kid I had a secret fascination with rocks, ever keen to pick out the prettiest or most colourful from wherever I could find them. Yes, one must not remove specimens from nature, but there are billions of rocks out there, and the only rocks I have ever found are those of no value – except to me.

With time my fascination dwindled away, my attention on other more important things like getting a rock on my finger. Sure I would save the odd rock or shell from trips near and far, but it wasn’t the same as what my rock collecting fetish would eventually come to be; something more meaningful than I ever anticipated.

For 13 years I have had one particular rock on the nightstand beside my bed. Why there, I don’t know. It’s just a grey, round, seemingly-boring-to-some, rock. But that rock has a special meaning, and it’s what re-ignited my passion for rock collecting.

With permanent ink I had inscribed on the rock: “To Mommy, from Mitch. First day of school, September 7, 2000” It was the first day kindergarten and my son handed me this rock he found on the school grounds, a prized possession for he and I in every sense of the word. I wanted to savour the sentimentality of the moment. My other son was six months old and resting in his carrier at my feet, with my grandfather, their great-grandfather, at my side. One minute it was ‘just’ a rock, but after that, it was everything.

Time wore on, and I was busy with growing babies and growing kindergarteners. We had many outings to parks and beaches, and I have jars of saved shells and tiny rocks to preserve the memories. Some of the rocks and jars are labeled, and sadly some are not. All too soon I became aware of time passing and the need to preserve moments and memories. The boys grew, as did the rocks, and so did my keen sense of time passing all too quickly.

Wherever beach or park we went to, someone found a rock to save. A treasure in a tiny hand, the rock was often passed to me to carry in my purse. As the hands grew, so did the rocks, and so did my need for a bigger purse. But then I realized – bigger rocks meant more space to write.

Despite always being a busy whirlwind, I always had a sense of how quickly time was passing, and knew the boys would be out of school before I knew it. I vowed to myself that wherever we went, providing the rocks were aplenty, I would find a rock big enough to write the date, where we were, and who was present - that’s it. We have become avid hikers and explorers of local beaches and forests, so treasure hunting is frequent. The boys have joined in my ritual, and have become the hunters for the perfect ‘writing rock;’ they know the right size and shape.

So as the kindergartener is graduating high school this year, and the once six-month-old baby is now in grade seven, I know time is flying faster than I can collect rocks.

I just need more space to keep ‘em - both the kids and the rocks.


  1. Oh that is wonderful! I didn't know you did that. I love the sentiment and now I know I'm not strange, as I have so many rocks too! I just never thought of writing on them and now I have to remember where they all came from...! Janelle

    1. Thank you, Janelle! As many know, I do do 'odd' things, but they are usually done with get 'rock writing!' Thanks for reading! Lisa