Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Favorite Place on Earth is a Rock Pit

Okay, I guess I should rephrase that title because my favourite place on earth is at home with my family, but I want to tell you about my favourite 'away' place.

When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me girls weren't supposed to have their pockets full of rocks. I didn't understand why and it didn't stop me from picking up every pretty rock I found. I was fascinated by their shapes, lines and colours. I didn't know why they looked that way, I just knew that's the way God made 'em and I was going to enjoy looking. That was almost half a century ago and now it's my husband who shakes his head when I empty the rocks from my pockets.

But I've learned something in all those years of rock collecting . . . even rocks change over time. When you think of a rock, you think of something solid, built to last, like the parable about the wise man building his house on rock. And the house built on rock will last hundreds of years but over thousands of years, the rock itself will change. Here are some examples of rocks that have changed over time. By the way, I found all these rocks in the Souris Rock Pit in Southwestern Manitoba.

This first one is a piece of 2"x2" petrified wood. See the round circles? I have no idea what they are but it's on a knobby on one corner of the rock. And yes, petrified wood is a rock. It used to be wood and you can see the woodgrain texture, but over time, it has petrified and is now a rock. You can see I'm not a geologist so I can't tell you what or why, I can only show you the result.

This next one is becoming agatized. During the process, some type of snail like creature fossilized in the rock - see the bottom right. Although not opaque when held up to the light, it is still considered an agate.

Here's a shell fossil in a piece of mustard jasper. I really like this rock because the edges are round and smooth.

The next one is another favourite. I really don't know what caused the impressions on this agate, but it looks like some small lizard or something became fossilized, doesn't it? I mean, it really looks like a mouth and teeth. Can you imagine if it was from a baby dinousaur?

The next one is what they call a porous rock. It has these little holes all over it. And then something made a round donut-like impression. I don't know what did it but I think it's really cute.

Then we have a really big agate which is as long as my index finger. It looks like a weird coloured piece of wood except for the waxy shine which is a characteristic of all agates. And you can see the petrified wood markings - almost as if it's still a log. This piece was one of those accidental finds over a dozen years ago. I'd finished for the day and was walking back to the vehicle when I spotted the waxiness right there on the hard packed parking area. I decided to dig it up and it's still once of my choicest finds.

Next is a 2" piece of mustard jas
per with what looks like teeth on it. Jasper is a semi-precious stone and the Souris Pit has lots of both the red and yellow (mustard) colored pieces. But the white spots are shiny like little pearls. Of course they're not pearls or teeth but it's nice to imagine, eh?

The next 2 photos are of a small (under 1") agate. This is a nice example of an agate because if you look close, you'll see a little triangular shape embedded in the agate. Sometimes, agates will have ferns or mosquitos inside. When you go rock hounding in an agate pit, you'll see people holding up their rocks to see how clear the inside is. If you can't see through it, it's not an agate yet.

In my house, I have some of my rock collection out in the open where everyone can see it. Every day as I pass it, I think of the wonders God has created. That's what got me started collecting rocks. But now, it's so much more.

You see, as a child, I believed God made the rocks the way I found them. But He didn't. He created a magnificent world where everything changes from the rocks to us, his most precious creation. And even if I resist change, it still happens. My thinking changes as I broaden my education. And my heart changes as I love and live and grow closer to God.

And even during those years of being a backslider when I thought I was lost , God was there, watching and waiting. He knew I was changing because everything changes. There is only one constant and that is God's love. God's love for us will never change.

But if God can change a piece of wood into a translucent rock, just think what he can do with you.

The Souris Rock Pit is located in the town of Souris, Manitoba in Southwestern Manitoba just a few hours northeast of Minot, North Dakota. The 12 acre pit is open every summer for rock hounds and fossil hunters. It's only a 4.5 hr drive east of me and I try to go one day a year, with or without the kids.

Are there any other rock hounds out there? Do you have a favourite hobby you need to get out of your system once in awhile? Do you collect something which gives you a reason to travel?

Now don't laugh, but I'm going to be giving away the 2 rocks you see here. The one of the left is a 1" piece of petrified wood and the one of the right is the little agate I was holding up to the light in the last 2 photos. They're small because I didn't want the package to weight too much. As it is, can you imagine the postal employees when they read the contents as 'rocks'. But I wanted to give you something as a visual reminder of God's unchanging love. And because I love history, I'll be including a copy of Janet Dean's debut book Courting Miss Adelaide. So please, leave your e-mail address if you’d like to be in the drawing. I’ll be drawing names at midnight eastern time October 22nd. Remember to include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address.


  1. No way. I love rocks too. I have this little cigar box of rocks that my mother had before I came along and now I bring home at least one pretty rock from all the places I visit.
    I have more seashells than rocks now but I have to tell you my fingers were itching as I read your story.

    What amazes me, and speaks so much of what we can't understand with our minds or see with our eyes is how water and wind are harder, stronger than rocks.
    Chemistry. Only a big God who is the ultimate designer and engineer could come up with a way to make everything the same-think of the basic building block, the atom- but act in such vast differences.

    okay, too much thought for so early.

  2. I have a little rock collection. I don't get an itch or anything to go outside and collect, but when I was younger I went through a rock phase. I asked my mom to buy me a rock book which I still have, and I collected my own. Plus my mom majored in archaeology and had some rocks of her own. Also my great grandfather collected things on the trips he went to and we got a box of rocks from one of his trips to Africa. There were blue ones and all kinds of stuff. But my favorite things about rocks is the colors and texture. I love to hold them up to the light.

  3. Anita Mae,
    My first "college" job was as a geologist. Then I learned, 1977 style, that the job wouldn't entail finding rocks and examining them under the microscope, with the Moh's scale, with HCl acid!

    Glad to find a fellow rockie!


  4. This is so exciting. It reminds me of Geology class in college. Please enter me for your contest. Thanks.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  5. Anita,

    I loved your photos and stories of rocks. And the idea that all things change over time.

    I'm not nearly so dedicated a collector, but I do have a rose bowl on the windowsill over my kitchen sink filled with rocks picked up on family vacations. I don't know why we started it, but we always bring one rock home.

    I have another glass candle holder, the bottom of which is filled with shells from trips to the beach.

    I don't know why we do it. There is never anything particularly special about the rocks or shells and I couldn't tell you which rock or shell is from which holiday.

    But the collections remind me that sometimes we stop rushing through life long enough to enjoy being together.

  6. Anita! I didn't know you had such a fascinating collection. I can't wait to show your post to my kids after they come home from school.

    Ahh, collections. My guess is I'd have to have five or more of one thing to call it a collection. Only thing in my house that fits the bill is my small litter of children. And our dog who thinks he's my sixth child.

  7. I can't wait to show all your comments to my mom and hubby and say, 'See! I'm not strange.' LOL

    Deb, I think your cigar box is special. My mom lives in Ontario but she doesn't collect anything except plants and I hate to say it but they've died from neglect in my care.

    But you can go through your box and know that your mom thought that rock was precious enough to save. Do you wonder where she found them? Or what she was thinking when she spotted it? Did she pick it up right away or 2nd guess it? And where was she emotionally when she decided to put that rock in her pocket? I mean, did she like it's smoothness and want to rub it softly like a 'worry stone'?

    Those rocks are a bond you'll always have with her which no one else will ever have. And when you pass that box on to one of your kids, it won't be your mom's rocks any longer because your kids will always wonder: Who found the rock - you or Grandma? And why this one...

    I love that phrase,
    'my fingers were itching as I read your story'
    Thank you for sharing, Deb.

  8. What a fun post, Anita! Loved it. I've always liked to pick up & keep interesting rocks, but I've got nothing on my daughter. She'll love reading this when she gets home from school.

  9. Adge, I could just have easily addressed my questions to you as well as to Deb. It's nice to hear from a descendant who has been on the receiving end of such a gift.

    You may not 'get the itch' to go rock hounding, but you have an adventuring history and it lives in you. I think that kind of legacy is just as unique to pass on as the box. And you may think you've outgrown it, but I'm sure it's just there, waiting. LOL

    I like blue anything! I haven't found a blue rock, yet, well, except for flint, and as you can see, I like holding them up to the light too.

    Enjoy your collection. And think of those questions when you look at it.

    Thanks for the visit, Adge.

  10. Hey Patti - I know what you mean. I almost took geology in university because I wanted to learn more about rocks but when I looked at the curriculum I quickly changed my mind.

    I have many books on rocks, though and it really makes my day when I can actually identify one as being something as opposed to just a composite.

    Glad you came forward as a rockie. :)

  11. Hey Carmen, so you're one of the ones who took the classes. Good for you. I never took science past grade 9 so there's no way I would have survived those university geology classes. Good to know someone who has.

    Yup, got you in my hat, too. Thanks for joining us today.

  12. Hey Wenda, I have a friend who picks up large (+6") rocks on her vacations and uses them in her yard. She can tell you where she found every one of them. I'm not like her but I like thinking of her in her garden.

    Your candle holder of shells reminds me of finding sand dollars and other shells on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We came back with so many of them. I'm sure we still have them but we put them away when the children were small because of their fragility - the shells, not the kids. LOL

    And I agree, when I look at the rocks I picked up on the shore of Lake Superior, or in a Minnesota gravel pit, an amethyst mine, or a lone Montana highway, I think of those trips and who I shared them with. Other rocks, I can't remember where I found them, but when I look at 'em, I know why.

    Wenda, I really like the thought of them being in your kitchen window. Thank you for the image.

  13. Actually Gina, you've just reminded me that I have a post on some of my agates over on my blog.

    You could say you have a collection of kids. It's a lot better than what I said when I shook the hand of His Royal Highness Prince Charles and at his inquiry if the kids at my feet were mine, told him 'Yes, they're my second batch.'

    Dumb, dumb, dumb. Of all the things to say to a prince and I end up comparing my kids to baking. *sigh

  14. Cool, Susanne. I'll be watching for her response. Can't wait to read what she's been up to. Thanks for telling her about my post.

  15. Anita, is there anyone who hasn't picked up a special (to them) rock and who knows exactly when and where they found it? (Little do they know that God actually brought them to it at that particular time! :-))) There's always a reason. You're a special lady to part with some of your collection.


  16. I never thought of it that way, Connie, but it makes sense, doesn't it.

    Okay, you caught me. I have waaaaay more than a person should collect. It reminds me of the end of last year's ACFW conference when I headed north from Minneapolis towards Thunder Bay, Ontario. I kept stopping along the shore of Lake Superior to look for Agates. There are so many rocks unique to that area, the Lake Superior Agate being one of them.

    I ended up with a couple ice cream buckets filled with coffee cups of rocks, each one annotated where I found each batch.

    Then, when I was at the border crossing, they asked me what I was bringing into Canada and I had to admit a couple buckets of rocks. They laughed at me and waved me through after all the questions with just a cursory glance in my van.

    So you see, Connie, my hubby really likes that I'm giving a couple away. It's just too bad they weigh so much or I'd mail out more. :)

  17. We might be able to start a grassroots movement to change the cliche 'dumber than a box of rocks' to more treasured than . . .

    Actually Anita, some of the ones in my mom's box are supposed to be cast offs from the local museum. Now, how that happened, I'll never know.

    I personally love soil too, but that probably won't get a big response as a blog post, eh?

  18. What great pictures, Anita! Such an awesome hobby you have. God's wonders never cease, that's for sure!

    God bless you all today.

  19. Great post, Anita! I don't have a rock collection, either, well, except for all the ones I've "collected" from the dryer after they fell out of some child's pocket. All those rocks are in a bucket above the washer, and guess what? One of them is a waxy-looking agate! Cool!
    Blessings, and thank you for sharing your collection with us all!

  20. Cast-off's from a museum? Wow! That's exciting. :)

    Your comment about soil had me laughing because although my mom didn't seem to understand why I collected rocks, she ate soil when she was pregnant with me!

    She said she was visiting her mom on the farm and had this urge. So, she went down to the creek and clawed at the sides until she'd stripped the topsoil and found the clay. I'll always remember the image of her showing me how she scraped down and shoveled it into her mouth with her fingers.

    She said they didn't have maternity vitamins at that time and could only assume her body craved the minerals in the clay.

    And you wondered where I got this affinity for rocks... mwahahahahaha

  21. Yes, God continues to amaze me with His creativity. I think what I like the best is that I haven't discovered His genius in huge batches, but a little bit at a time, doled out in little packages to lift me up. I never want to lose that feeling I get when I discover another of His surprises.

    Thanks, Gwen.

  22. Um Niki, I hate to break it to you, but you do have a rock collection - you just told us about it - it just happens to have been gathered by someone else. LOL

    Thank you for telling us about it. Now go tell your kids what you found. :)

  23. Hi Anita,
    I love the shell fossil in the mustard jasper. I guess that all that's left to say is, "YOU ROCK!" And Jesus Rocks the world. :)

  24. Anita, this was too cool! I love rocks, too. I'm forever bringing rocks home. And I've even given some as gifts before. Thanks for the fun post.

  25. Jilly, thank you. That shell fossil might be small but it was very satisfying when I found it. I have one of the more common shell fossils in limestone but it's such a soft rock - as my Oregon Trail poem attests. To find one in jasper, though made my trip.

    Yes, Jesus rocks the world! And the safest place is in His arms. I should make a magnet with that phrase. :)

  26. Susie - another rocker! We're just climbing out of the rock pit today. Hooray!

    I tell you all, the next time I take a trip to Souris, I'll be standing there on the cool bottom, 20' below ground level, ignoring the machines working on the other side of the pit, and I'll hear the trickling of a gravel slide and wonder who's come to join me. And there as I dig through the sediment that hasn't seen the light in a million years, I'll imagine you all there beside me. Oh no, there I go again... :)

    Thanks for 'fessing up, Suzie.

  27. What lovely rocks and oddities!.

    I would love to be entered in the drawing but I am afraid that your new blog isn't very specific about whether all giveaway are open worldwide or restricted to the US/Canada only.

    Maybe the webmaster can change this ?

    Hoping worldwide is allowed


    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  28. I wanted to be an archeologist for a while in elementary school.

    In high school my youth group went spelunking several times in caves, not the types with paths, the types where you have to wear hard hats and carry flashlights and sign death waivers. It was really fun. Lots of stalagtites and stalagmites and cliffs and tunnels.

    By the way, I'm not sure if I spelled any of those cave related words correctly. I might have to sign a waiver about that too.

  29. Hey Carol, we discussed this possibility before but didn't think we'd actually get any overseas readers. You're the first and yes, I've put your name in my hat, too.

    Thank you for commenting and saying my rocks and oddities are lovely. Music to my ears.

  30. Hey Dina, I take my hat off to you 'cause spelunking takes guts. It's hard enough to adventure off the path above ground never mind below it.

    The closest I've been to a cave is when I worked a mile and a half underground in the Cdn equivalent to Cheyenne Mtn. On some shifts I went to work in the dark and got off work in the dark and never saw daylight for 3-4 days.

    I appreciate you sharing. Um... find any nice rocks down there? Heh.

  31. Lovely post, Anita. I'm not a rock collecter per say, but I do pick through rocks and pocket the odd one that interest me. In fact, today only daughter found a couple of rocks I'd stashed in the vehicle after a camping trip this summer. It's it interesting that I had a rock story to tell today. :) Wonderful and purposeful are His ways!

  32. Hey Karyn, my Prairie Chick sister, very nice to see you here.

    Now that your daughter knows mommy does it, she may start bringing home her treasures, too.

    You actually gave me an opening here to mention the nice selection of 'keeper' boxes at the Dollar store (north of Zellers) the other day. I picked up a couple for the boys. I wanted to give them 'better' ones but they've damaged their tin ones and they're still rough with their stuff so the dollar store ones suit my budget. Okay, commercial over.

    Thanks for coming over.

  33. Awesome Mum! Nice work!

  34. Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

    - Daniel


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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.