Saturday, February 13, 2010
Most of the rocks in Kansas are not remarkable at first consideration. First and most obviously is the limestone. There were scarcely any trees when the Europeans first settled this area. In the absence of wood, the immigrant stonemasons found and quarried the limestone, fashioning fence posts, houses, barns, schools and churches. Most of those stone structures remain and many are still comfortably inhabited as beautiful homes.
I always thought I would enjoy living in one of those modernized limestone homes until I heard (on good authority) that scorpions also enjoy inhabiting limestone houses. I have never seen a scorpion in a single one of my Kansas homes and I hope to keep it that way. Kansas scorpions are not deadly, but they are high on my revulsion scale, right up there with maggots and stink bugs.
Flint is another widespread rock. The first humans here fashioned implements of flint - arrowheads, blades, axes, scrapers, adzes, Quivera knives, spear points, awls, and hoes. Flint is directly responsible for all of the remaining untouched prairie, making the ground too difficult and costly to plow. It was flint rock, and not human wisdom, that saved what is left of the natural tall grass prairie. Humans are not even as smart as rocks, sometimes.
I love rocks in general and certain ones in particular. An acquaintance from New Zealand sent me three small rocks from that far away land. She sent me a small piece of greenstone the Maori hold sacred. They call it Pounamu, but I do not know what that means. It is beautiful, green and somewhat iridescent. She also sent a small white stone from a beach where dolphin are known to frequent offshore. The ocean has worn it as smooth as glass and there is the faintest vein of cobalt blue in it. It is beautiful.
A friend much closer to home sent me a Kansas stone that travels. It is a yellow rock of very hard stone, about the size of the palm of my hand. There is a perfect, natural hole through it. You can see there was once a fossil in the hole. I hung that stone from the roof of my front porch, in a place of honor, but it disappeared. I looked everywhere on and under and around the porch, thinking quite sensibly that it had simply fallen, but I never found it. I was deeply disappointed to have lost such a cool rock, especially one that was a gift.
A couple of years passed and I was raking Autumn leaves from under the porch when that rock turned up laying atop the leaves. Of course you think I missed it the first twenty times I raked and dug and scratched beneath the porch looking for that rock. I was delighted to have found it, but since I was busy, I laid it carefully on the porch. I intended to pick it up when I went in the house later but it disappeared again before evening. After looking all around on the porch, under it, and beside the porch with no luck, I believed it was gone for good. One day I came home from work and it had mysteriously turned up again on the porch, almost exactly where I had laid it after finding it on the leaves. Go ahead and scoff. The only other explanation is that Duke carried it off in his mouth and then brought it back. That is as crazy as a rock that appears and disappears. Now the rock is inside my house where I can keep an eye on it. So far, so good.