One of the delights of living in Plattsburgh, NY during my college years was wandering along a small section of Lake Champlain where the riprap along the shore yielded all sorts of geological treasures. Across the lake in Vermont there were marble quarries and somehow some of the huge marble slabs transported down the lake ended up on the lake's shoreline. There I began to indulge in a penchant for picking up black and white rocks, and have continued collecting them ever since. I especially love black rocks with single bands of white.
According to Jamie Sams, Seneca/Cherokee author of many books about Native American spirituality, any stone with a different-colored line running through it is called a Sacred Path stone. My connection to rocks is emotional, visual, and yes, spiritual. I seem incapable of retaining much in the way of scientific knowledge about Mother Earth's geological treasures. I have a friend who is a fantastic, knowledgeable geologist/earth science teacher and she helps me identify rocks from time to time, but unless I write it down and consciously memorize the facts, they go in one ear and out the other.
That said, I was fascinated by rocks spotted with holes I found on the Oregon coast last month. My geologist friend confirmed that the holes in these (often shale) rocks are made by clams. They bore into the rocks, dissolving them with acid to drill their burrows. A small bunch of these curious rocks made their way into my checked luggage turned in at the Portland Airport, where I'm sure the baggage inspectors are used to seeing such treasures tossed in amongst other souvenirs and dirty laundry.
Pondering this post about my attachment to rocks, I remembered a short story I wrote in 1997 for a fiction contest sponsored by The Raintown Review Anthology Series, Short Shots: Tidbits O' Double-Digit Fiction At Its Tiny Finest (no story longer than 99 words), a publication of HarMona Press in Roswell, New Mexico. I was pleased and amazed to win their First Prize of $20.00 and publication therein. I reproduce it here for a second airing:
She collected rocks everywhere they stopped, all the way from Ohio through Wyoming, sneaking them into bags and boxes, poking them under the car jack and spare tire in the trunk of their Chevrolet. Finally the car was so heavy, it wouldn't go over the mountains.
"What have you done?" her husband asked. He thought witchcraft was to blame.
"We can't go on," she agreed.
He said she could keep the sluggish car, but not his favorite history books. He walked toward Idaho, wheeling his favorite suitcase behind him.
She stayed on, and built a house of stone.
- Keddy Ann Outlaw
photo 1 by KAO: Lincoln City, Oregon shore rocks
photo 2 by KAO: black and white rocks