Geologists have a saying – rocks remember. Neil Armstrong
I don’t know when it began. It just did. Suddenly I was seeing rocks and finding them ever so interesting. Sometimes it was the color that caught my attention. Sometimes it was the shape that made me pick it up and remove it from its place. How it felt in my hand could be the invitation for a rock to join my beloved rock family.
Rocks decorate Simplicity on window ledges, in pottery bowls, in baskets and plants. Fortunately, Don appreciates rocks as well. On a trip to England, independent of the other, we were both picking up rocks from our homeland. In Dover, I requested time alone to stroll the beaches and sense the rocks beneath my feet. Don stretched out on a bench. He knew this would take time, that finding rocks, being with rocks, is a form of meditation for me. My eyes were glued to the textures and shapes that tantalized my curiosity. The Dover stones felt familiar, comfortable. My fingers easily fit into the smooth impressions formed into the rock, much like putty. Holding each one in my hand reminded me of a place deeply known in my bones.
In the English Cotswold’s, we picked up a beautiful butterscotch colored stone used in so many of the buildings and homes in that part of the country. This is a worker stone, rough and angular. While not a stone you quickly notice by itself, it stands out beautifully in the finished building.
A trip to the Pacific Ocean found us fascinated by rocks that were round and smooth and flat. Again, I spent hours walking the rugged coastline picking them up, then stacking them, one on top of the other. I remembered the importance of stacked stones to the Inuits living in the frozen tundra. Called inuksuk’s, the stacked stones are a means of communication. In a land of snow and ice, this was how to know the path in finding food and shelter.
Our neighbors have a rather large inuksuk in their front yard. So unusual and most intriguing, I asked about its meaning. “We have moved so many times. This place is home. This is where we have decided to raise our children.” Rocks were brought from previous places where they had lived. Rocks found on vacation, in different states, in special locations filled with memories. Here stood a stack of rocks, an inuksuk, as a visible reminder of the importance of place.
On the southern edge of Lake Superior is a small bay with a unique rock called a concretion. This word comes from the Latin con, meaning together, and cresco, to grow. According to the Wisconsin Geological Survey, these grown-together rocks began forming about 20,000 years ago in Lake Superior. Water pressure and wind erosion have helped to create their interesting shapes.
To describe a concretion is somewhat difficult as they vary, but each one looks rather odd or interesting and reminds you of something else. One might look like a crescent roll while another is very flat, resembling ripples in a lake. Regardless of their shape, the ones we found all have a smooth appearance with defining lines. To the Native Americans in this part of the country, concretions are deeply respected for the wisdom they are believed to hold. Also called spirit stones or grandfather rocks, each rock honors a spirit whose message is gifted to the one who finds it.
Perhaps my yearning and fascination around rocks and stones is to find the spirit within. Each holds the mysteries of how it was formed, why it landed in a certain place, and now, that it allows itself to be found by me. When my daughter left for college, I searched for a rock that fit perfectly into the palm of my hand. In giving it to her I said, “If you find yourself homesick, just wrap your fingers around this stone and know I am with you.” A spirit stone for sure, infused with a mother’s love.
P.S. To each of my stones, rocks and pebbles now living in a new place, far away from where I found you, thank you for gifting me reminders of the places you once lived, of the spirit of place within you.