Saturday, August 6

I collect rocks.

my rock collection

I collect rocks. When I am in a place I want to remember, I bring a piece of it home with me. I always imagine that someday I might return the rocks to where they came from. Or perhaps someone else will.

Tim collected rocks too, before I knew him (he came with a few special rocks of his own) and he would hold them and impress upon them the place of their origin, so when he held the rock later, it might tell him. I instead put the place names upon my stones with little cut-out book letters.

berne, switzerland

Rocks are what they are, certain and solid. They are strong, slow and they show where they came from. When I tumble my collection together, I see colorado meet italy, prague meet maine, california meet ontario. The white quartz stone from the first appalachian trail hike tim and I took sits next to the rock from berne where, years later, he secretly bought my engagement ring while I was at the paul klee zentrum.

paestum, italy // valle della luna, sardignia

I found that little moon-shaped rock in california's half-moon bay, walking on the seaweed-strewn beaches looking for green sea glass, about to camp in the chilly windy night along the stretch of beach thrown up against the dunes.

That tiny rock says all that to me. It's less subjective than a journal entry or a photograph. When I hold it in my fingers, it's proof that I was there.

Vernazza, italy. A salty swim in the bay, along the coast, bright blue fishing boats and seaweed clinging to the rocks, after a long hot hike. I was 28, and it was heaven.

Garden of the gods, colorado. I was 18, and my gramom and I shared a hotel room while we saw the national parks with my parents. She was 76, and we hiked to delicate arch.

Valley of the moon, sardignia. A hike at sunset to pink wind-sculpted rocks on the edge of the ocean. I wore linen pants, and a silk scarf, and I was 22.

There it sits now among its peers from california, nova scotia, switzerland. Each one holds a story.

Cheticamp, cape breton, nova scotia. Our honeymoon road trip, moose, the ice wine vineyards with crab shells under the vines, the breathing of the whales audible in the quiet air of the clifftops.

Stechelberg, switzerland. A long thigh-jellying hike down a mountain, hundreds of stairs through the woods, and a roaring foaming river at the bottom.

Gimli, canada. A solo pilgrimage to the narcisse snake dens, the last morning ~ watching gulls on the lake ice, collecting their dropped feathers, that delicious huge cinnamon bun from the little bakery.

My favorite rock is the one from the roman forum. It is very smooth, pale and unassuming. When I was studying in rome, I used to leave my apartment and walk past nero's palace, past the colosseum, and down the ancient roads in the forum. Sometimes I would tag along with tours and sometimes just walk, imagining. I would always look at the house of the vestal virgins for a long time. When I hold that little stone, trodden by the feet of thousands, I feel myself back there, finding my way down the crooked streets and breathing the air that they had breathed.



jan said...

Brooke, in this you are a woman after my own heart. I collect rocks too and have done for as long as I can remember. Though my collection is less than yours and I cannot so clearly recollect where all of them came from. I have one from China now to add to the one from Vesuvius in Italy and the one from Glendalock in Ireland.

Lovely dreamy post, and I love the photographs. Glorious rocks.

Bee said...

your rock collection is beautiful. :) i love how you label them. i collect rocks too, but not very seriously. if i'm in a place, and neglected to bring a camera, sometimes i'll pick up an interesting rock as a physical reminder of the place.

ALFIE said...

bits of mineral, matter and stone. you've got parts of the whole world there in the palm of your hand.

pure magic that tim finds joy in the same.

is that a petoskey stone i spy? :) or just a look-alike?

ps: thinking of you both as i prepare some food to take to work this evening. inspired by your suggestion-- i'm creating an orzo, feta and olive salad! much better than the nutrition room fare of oatmeal packets and peanut butter :)

Fiona said...

Wonderful, Brooke. You're playing a stormer lately.
Sharing a thought that I hope isn't too painful: I imagine little hands picking up these rocks and demanding a story, and by and by, knowing these events as well as you.

Take care :)

Kelly said...

Just 2 nights ago I arranged my heart rock collection on a chair cushion to photograph and hadn't realized with each one I placed I recalled the story behind it. Like a trip down memory lane.

How ironic to see your post today. I started placing map pins on a my world map for every adventure of travel for the last 12 years. Map pins and heart rocks - a daily touchable reminder of the richest moments of our lives.
Love your post.

Ta said...

What a beautiful collection! My grandmother always collected rocks wherever we went together. I picked it up from her. She admittedly liked to take sizeable rocks with which to line her flower beds. I love that you label them. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

I love Icarus too. I knew him from Myth but first got interested in him from the Bruegel painting and the William Carlos Williams poem about that painting.

Stephanie said...

What a beautiful collection! I too love collecting rocks and just cannot stop myself for filling up my pockets at times. Sea glass, rocks, shells...these are my favored memories of trips as well. I love that you label them. Mine are a jumble of mixed territories scattered throughout the house in shallow bowls and vases and ledges.

anne said...

so awesome! what an incredible way to remember your trips. i really really love it!

it sounds as though you have traveled quite a bit. that's so wonderful! when i was 18 i went to europe (i'm so thankful i went then, as it looks as though it may be decades before i ever get to return). my fondest memory is my sister and i speeding through rome on a scooter. such fun!

hope your week is off to great start :D

* said...

i too save rocks from travels. i used to mark the backs of them with the place as well. i have a few here in my garden and when i move i pack them and take them with me.

Anonymous said...

I want to do the same thing. I have a few rocks, but always kind of ...didn't do it...cuz I thought it was just me. LOL Anyway, I would love to exchange a small rock with anyone. I am in Upstate NY. I'm looking for any small rock that is NOT from New York State. Is there a website that does this anywhere?

Susan said...

Well I don't go anywhere so I mustered the courage to get rocks from others. LOL I got one from my high school friend who is now a priest in Hawaii. A great pumice stone! Thanks for inspiring me to ... ask for rocks. collection will have the name of the place and the person who sent it to me. I take care of my elderly parents in my home and don't get out except to the store an doctors, so if anyone wants to send me a tiny stone....I'm game. ;) I can return the favor with a Lake Ontario rock. They are gorgeous.