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Please bear with me as I explore the relationships between rocks, artifacts and us. I hesitate to post this as I know even more rocks will be removed and our chances of finding them will be even less.
I have hunted for 50 years, seen hundreds, and taken home way too many. With 70 years of reflection, I see it was the experience of finding them in their place or home which gave them value. They lose their luster and their life, their uniqueness when placed in piles, frames, or even pictures. They become just objects and dim even as trophies and souvenirs.
I want to share the excitement of what I felt when they found me. I want to look closely at each one and wonder why it caught my attention. What can I learn about it, from it? They can be manipulated, painted, drilled, scraped, carved, broken and reused. There are many meanings and mysteries we can just begin to comprehend. Even where they are placed and their arrangements with other rocks just might be their purpose for us to explore.
I quickly learned to lift my eyes, expanding my search and vision to why are they here? That exploration might tell why it is here, what it was used for or more importantly, why was it given value and attention by others? That knowledge of place has more reward than any piece, in particular, could provide. It is the learning about where we live, that rock and I, that is important.
We limit our learning if we only see the practicality of it being a “tool”. Just being a fossil, odd shape or a pretty rock is plenty of reason for people to have a relationship with it. There are many purposes and pleasures with rocks but listening to them is the gift. My favorite finds were whistles, artful effigies, and archeoastronomy alignment markers to the sky.
LEAVE them where you find them! The more you leave the more you will find! Imagine if we, for generations, had left them where they were. Think of the thousands of pieces we could find, learn from and admire. We wouldn’t have to find them in museums, locked away, forgotten in some closet or even dumped in the garbage. I leave what I find for others to find joy in their discovery. I want you to communicate directly with the sacredness of stone and share your story with us.
To expand, my reward has come from returning the rocks, putting them back where I found them. This quest gives me more satisfaction than I can describe or explain. I still have 17 “keepers” I am excited to return. Like visiting past lovers and dear friends I want to bathe in that spot again, that magical moment when the rock speaks and calls attention to itself and our home.
I realize it is hard for us to even think about. We have created alters for our “finds” on our walls, in display cases and locked them in our hearts and minds. But, returning some pieces have taken me back to distant friends, foreign lands and powerful places. Returning them is difficult but their freedom and mine has given me a deeper understating of what “home” and “relationship” means.
Take heart, you can’t lose them no matter where they are, as they are not a thing but a being you share time with. My “keepers” are the ones I found first. They were the closest to where I live. One of my best arrowheads came from my gravel road. I discovered it came from a local quarry area and people had been using that quarry site for thousands of years before roads. A few of my favorites come from a trashed filled creek in the nearby town.
Most important, this pilgrimage of “returning” has shown me how fortunate I am to live here. These “finds” covering thousands of years, illustrate our family of humans and their relationships to place. They teach us about other beings – ones we lived with, cared for, depended on and included as family. They have now included me in that relationship and that is my reward.
I offer one picture as an example. Be sure to see the comments afterward for more clarification. I hope that you will find this particular fishing rock where I left it. I hope you will leave it when you find it. And, I hope you enjoy your time in the wild world we share.