Wednesday, May 9, 2012

When I grow up...

When I was little, I was a huge rock collector. Anywhere I’d go, if there was a gravel driveway, I’d be out there bent over and picking up any little pebble and stone that caught my eye. I even thought I was going to be a geologist when I grew up. It was intense. I guarded my rock collection like a mother bear guards her cubs. If my little brother even tried looking at my rocks I’d hunch up and hiss then slink away. Okay I wasn’t that bad…maybe…but you get the idea.

One of my favorite memories about rock collecting was going with my dad to check on wells. Not to look at gauges with him or to observe the stinky black stuff pumping out of the earth, but to stare at the pink rock that made up the location. Scoria. North Dakota is filled with it and it is amazing! When you first glance at it, it looks pretty boring. It’s not sparkly or spotted like granite and it doesn’t have beautiful colors and designs like agates. It’s just chalky and pink. But when you’re only 3 foot something and you love rocks, none of that stops you from hunkering down and digging into the long dikes surrounding tanks. And I found something magical! Unbelievable! Something I had only seen in museums!

What was it you ask? Fossils! Fossils and fossils and more fossils. When you first start looking it’s hard to spot, but once you know what to look for, you can just walk along and pluck up the ancient impressions. I had ziplock bags full of scoria with all different types of leaves on them. I even found a dragonfly fossil once. That was a day for the history books!

It’s funny how things like that mean so much to you when you are little. I try to channel that kind of enthusiasm now but I still find myself sitting on the couch sipping my ginger ale with a straw. Where has my passion gone? I blame responsibility. I have no time to collect and categorize my rocks…I have to go to work and I have to wash my car and I have to comb my hair. Absurd! Haha but lately I have been trying to channel my long lost inner child.

Last Friday, my family and I were out at our new house location planting trees. And it just so happens that our new road is made of that beautiful pink, chalky rock. SCORIA! YIPPEE! So while my dad was waiting for me to bring him a fence post to string our planting line, I was lost in that familiar world…overwhelmed with curiosity and a need to find something to fill another page in my history book.

That little dot is my father...waiting for another fence post...responsibility, schmonsibility.

At first I was dismayed…have I lost my touch? Was I just imagining those delicate veins and stems pressed into the hard stone when I was 5? Maybe this batch of scoria is leafless.

But alas! A shape caught my eye…and sure enough, as I dug the chunk of scoria up, I could see the faint impression of a leaf carved into the surface. The familiar feeling of victory was back. And I had to find more!

After my fourth fossil, I felt I’d better go help the family plant trees before I got disowned. But for a little while I got to be 5 again, giddy with excitement. I think I’ll bring my inner child out more…but don’t worry…I’ll still comb my hair.


  1. Love the blog! I also am obsessed with rocks. I have always loved collecting them and digging things out of the earth. I once too thought of studying geology/archaeology...still do. But with how scattered my interests are, I'm afraid I'd want to be an astronaut tomorrow. :) I never knew you could find fossils like that under scoria! That is awesome! Next time I'm at my grandpa and grandma's house in Dickinson that is the first thing I will be going out to do in their driveway! :)

  2. Haha April I'm glad I'm not the only one obsessed with rocks! Yes I hope you find some fossils too! There are so many everywhere it's crazy!


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