Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Travel Rock

In Holland, I met a rock called Sulfur and his lovely wife. They had come all the way from Java, Indonesia. They had been unearthed there in the only sulfur mine still dug by hand, meaning it was a pretty toxic place. Our friends Hanneke and Paul bought them there and brought them home to the Netherlands. Given the toxic nature of their former abode, Mr. and Mrs. Sulfur seemed glad for the move. Speechless, in fact. But then Hanneke and Paul gave them to us, so then they have made the journey from Holland to the United States and now reside here, in our rock curio cabinet. They have many fascinating neighbors, and I am sure they are settling in nicely and making new friends. That we “own” them is moot, I sincerely believe. My understanding is that rocks have no sense of ownership in their culture, and furthermore, they basically don't pay much attention to us. Rocks do like to travel. They like to travel in much the same way Diane and I do: to go to one spot and spend a good deal of quality time there, to really drink in the place. It's better than just driving by and pointing and then saying, “I was there.”. But rocks have immense amounts of time to spend, and they take their time doing anything. Their movements can be virtually undetectable unless aided by outside forces. Mr. and Mrs. Sulfur, for example, rode thousands of miles in a single day with Hanneke and Paul, and then again with Diane and myself. Most rocks travel downhill. It's easier. Some rocks sneak into people's shoes or get stuck on passing bare feet – if they are small enough to go unnoticed and unfelt. Others travel in garbage bins. Some deliberately offer their services as lawn and garden decorations. Others get pushed around by forces of nature such as heavy winds, rainstorms, floods, earthquakes, upshooting rock formations, rivers (always downstream), the ocean, volcanic eruptions, even melting ice. Some get mined from deeper hovels, cleaned up, and transported to curios and collections like ours. Those rocks have a good life, indeed. There are no quarrels or fights or brawls among them, at least in our curio. They seem unconcerned with matters of size or color or belief. Even rocks that have been polished do not shine above others. Pyrite and gold ore are equals here, as are sulfur and chalcedony. Mental illness is unknown among them. Even geodes do not suffer from split personalities. Rocks that have been petrified are afraid of nothing. Mostly, rocks keep to themselves. Rocks are quiet travelers. They make ideal guests, as long as they are not too large, and they never raid the refrigerator late at night or run the television too loud. I do wonder what they think of us, if they think of us at all.

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