Love Me Like a Rock

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My kids used to love gathering rocks and bringing them to me like little treasures. Each rock would have something special about it—one had a particularly shiny stripe around it, another would be perfectly round, another still would be a fantastic color when it was wet. I would get an excited description of the rock, and be told where it was found, and perhaps who was with them when it was found, and then the rocks would be deposited in my hand and off they would run.

I never had the heart to throw these little gems out, as they were gathered with such care and curiosity, but I didn’t really know what to do with them, either. So I collected them in a dish until the dish was overflowing. But the rocks kept coming. Each outing—in the neighborhood, on a class field trip, or on a walk down the beach—would produce more rocks with various details of interest. Eventually a new location and container for the rocks had to be set up.

And as the children grew older, their rock treasures got larger. I managed to find a location for all the different sizes and colors of rocks that seemed to flood our house like a Northwest landslide. Whenever possible, I would ask them to search for a particular size or shape of rock that might help “complete” a collection—by asking them to specialize in their choices, I could perhaps cut down on the bounty brought back home.

My children are older now, and don’t collect rocks as they used to—although occasionally a very special rock finds its way home in a backpack or pocket. Today we have small dishes of rocks on the patio, a container in the bathroom; a couple of them are large enough to make interesting bookends and doorstops. The entrance to our front door has a collection of large, flat river stones gathered from a river in Montana and transported all the way back to Seattle

I understand that rocks may seem like an odd thing to “display”—my nephews certainly don’t understand why we have “piles of rocks” lying around our house—but I love knowing that these items were gathered as gifts and that I managed to keep them and can still look at them from time to time. And though none of us can recall where each and every rock came from, every now and then my kids will surprise me when they pull a rock from a dish and say, “I remember when I found this…”


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