Collecting a pocketful of rocks

Collecting a pocketful of rocks

Ever since I was little, I can remember collecting some of the strangest, most uninteresting/interesting things from nature.

Sure, there were the common collections like baseball cards and coins, but for this guy, the most unique and interesting collections seem to revolve around nature.

The one that remains with me today is rocks.

I have this strange fascination with picking up tiny pebbles to larger rocks that capture my fancy. I have pockets of rocks and stones in a various place around my house. I’m not sure what the draw was initially with stones, but since I was a wee lad, I’ve had the inclination to pick up interesting stones and pocket them to add to my collection.

How much is my rock collection worth?

Absolutely nothing, but rocks have always been kind of a soothing presence in my life, and because I generally walk with my eyes glued to the ground, in search of who knows what, they seem to jump up at me, almost begging me to take them home so they can play with their rock friends in my collection.

At one time as a young married man, I actually had a rock polisher kit. I was mesmerized by the idea of making my collection shiny and sparkly, until one day I realized two things: One, it took one month of tumbling around in that unit to become the shiny rock stars they were supposed to be — and I am not keen on patience — and two, the unit was incredibly loud and had to run 24/7.

Needless to say, no matter where I put the unit, my wife and I could hear the stones banging around at all hours, so that experiment fell to the wayside quickly.

I would have to leave my collection as nature had made them, which is fine with me.

Another unique collection when I was in high school was my beer can collection.

That was perhaps the second strangest thing I’ve ever collected because as many of you know, I have never tasted a beer in my life. I did, however, find the designs on the cans fascinating, so I set about walking our local roads in search of any new addition to the collection. I always collected cans I found in nature, so in a way I was doing some good by cleaning up after those responsible for littering.

I had these enormous, gray display cases that lined the cans side by side. It actually looked pretty cool, but somewhere, for whatever reason, I outgrew that collection and have no idea where it went.

However, I do still have in my possession one can, the Billy Beer can made famous by Billy Carter, brother of former President Jimmy Carter.

All of this brings us to my most fascinating collection.

When I was in elementary school, I collected cicadas.

OK, not really cicadas, as in the insect itself, but rather the exoskeletons they would leave clinging to tree branches, leaves, fence posts and anywhere else they could shed their skin to become a new creature.

Once that happened, those odd, little, tank-like, see-through tan exoskeletons were everywhere if you looked hard enough.

And sometimes you wouldn’t have to look all that hard.

I’ve heard of people collecting butterflies, a common insect collection, and even people who collect all types of bugs, but what in the world would a young boys’ fascination be in collecting these crunchy, little alien-like shells of a bug more known for driving people insane with their constant whirring when cicada season went full bore starting in June?

Once cicada season started, I’d lay in bed at night, windows open, listening to the serenade of what seemed to be thousands of these bug-eyed bugs that I was certain were perched right outside my window in choral formation from bass to baritone and then to lead and finally tenor.

They were so loud and obnoxious, and I’m pretty sure that tinnitus — that constant ringing in your ears for no good reason other than to be annoying — is actually a recording of cicadas played on a loop in my brain.

But I knew it was summer, and I didn’t have school, so the next day I got to go cicada exoskeleton hunting, and man, the hunting was good.

Those little guys were leaving their skin behind everywhere, and I was creating an army of exoskeletons.

Wow, as I type that out, it kind of sounds like a horror movie in the making.

Anyway, I had this big, black ceramic container with a lid, and that was where these critters would end up, and that container ended up on the fireplace downstairs. Once in a while, I’d get them out and line them up, my army preparing for some mythical march into battle.

It’s funny what people tend to find unique and collectible. Most people opt to collect things that eventually improve with age and become more valuable over time.

Not me, I’m useless collection guy, stashing nature’s litter into holding for reasons unknown, and it couldn’t be more enjoyable.

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