Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting My Rocks Off...

...of the fridgetop.
I am reading a really terrific book, Salt Dancers [1995] by Ursula Hegi.
It's the third Hegi book I have read, and I will read others. I think she is a fabulous writer.
It's a digressionary memoir-style novel about a woman named Julia who returns "home" to try and extract from her aged father a confession and apology for the years of physical and emotional abuse she suffered at his hands as a child.
At one point in the book, the adult Julia touches the pear-shaped rock that lies on the mantel of the fireplace at her home in Vermont. And she recalls how her brother Travis retrieved the rock from the bottom of the lake where they spent a great portion of their childhood.
"...when I take it into my hands, it feels dry but smells damp like the bed of the lake it came from."

I just thought it was so neat of a thing to do.
Such a neat thing to KEEP, from one's childhood.
Think of how long -- how many bazillion years that rock sat submerged in the darkness of the lake!
And now.... now I HAVE IT AND IT'S MINE.
I read it, and then I wondered if real people ever do such a thing.
Collect rocks, and attach sentimental value to them.

Then I realized that I myself am one of those people.
For the last hundred years or so I have had these two rocks [see above photo] sitting on the top of my fridge.
The significance of them for me is that I retrieved them from opposite sides of this great country I live in -- and it's a big 'un!
The first rock, the western one, is from a place called "Mile 0" [as in, "zero"] in Victoria, British Columbia, on the western side of Vancouver Island. It's called Mile Zero because this is the western starting point of the Trans-Canada Highway [the longest highway in the world, by the way!]
I retrieved it while walking the beach there. The only thing west of Mile Zero is......... a lot of water, and then Japan!
The other rock, more of a reddish hue to it, was retrieved from a rocky beach in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Admittedly, you can go a lot further east in Canada than Halifax, but, until I one day travel to St. John's, Newfoundland, this eastern rock of mine will have to suffice.
I think of these two modest rocks of mine as the Bookends of Canada.



Sam Sattler said...

Great post idea, Cip...reminds me of all the rocks I've picked up from all over the world, little reminders of a whole different place and time.

I'm writing this from the office - and on my desk are two "rocks," one is an extremely heavy thing shaped like a big gray cucumber that rolled up to my feet when I was walking on a deserted beach in Wales. The second is actually a brick fragment that I picked up when walking the grounds of the William Faulkner home in Oxford, Mississippi, one early morning.

Looking at them brings back great memories of two very different walks - and I enjoy having them around me.

Beth said...

I have quite a collection of rocks - and not just the ones in my head!

I like the symbolism of your collection.

Stefanie said...

Very cool. Remember the pet rock craze back in the 70s? I didn't partake but I love rocks and have a children's book called Everyone Needs a Rock. I have an obsidian rock from the deserts of California I got when I was a kid. My dad, with much effort, managed to chip off a bit of it so you can see the shiny black glass insides against the dull black outsides. My rock rocks! ;) Supposedly there are some beautiful rocks to be found on the shores of Lake Supperior but because it is a state park no one is allowed to actually remove any of them, even the smallest pebble. Crazy!

Amy said...

Very cool. I do this too, almost every time I go on vacation unless I am flying home :)

cipriano said...

See, I KNEW there were other rock collectors out there!
It's awesome to hear that I am not alone!

Anonymous said...

While writing On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan took some pebbles from said seashore and kept them on his desk. He mentioned this in an interview following the book's publication and almost immediately got into trouble with the beach's local authority as it is illegal to remove any flora or fauna from there! He publicly apologised and took the rocks back.