Our family has been rock collecting since even before we had kids. Daryl used to take me out to river bank and other good rocky areas and we’d spend an hour gathering treasures. Then we’d sit side by side and show each other our finds and toss back all but the neatest.
Daryl is especially good at finding fossils and petrified wood. I am especially good at finding really sparkly, pretty things. ;)
When we moved to this house, some of our rock collection came with us. I’d repurposed an old coffee table to hold the rocks and had a piece of plexiglass cut to fit the top. Eventually the rocks were moved outside to become mulch for the herb garden by the back door. Neighborhood kids used to come over and pore through them. We’d let them take one home each visit and they’d leave with agates and fossils and rocks that looked like cows and cookies. We got a kick out of how happy these kids would be to get a rock! We also got a kick out of passing on such a fun and simple hobby.
Now we have 4 kids of our own and they’re all rock hunters. Jack always has rocks in his pockets and lined up by his seat in the van. We can pass time even in parking lots, just by getting the kids looking at the rock filler around the trees.
There is something almost zen-like about rock hunting. You lose yourself. You forget to worry about things. You become a part of your surroundings, part of nature. You find the best rocks when you are lost in the act of not looking, not thinking, just seeing.
If you have not discovered the lovely little book Everybody Needs a Rock, I highly recommend finding a copy at your library or local book store. It is a treasure, with wonderful illustrations and just the right combination of seriousness and silliness.
Rock hunting is one of those equal opportunity activities. Anybody can do it. It costs nothing. There’s something for everybody. You can also do it just about anywhere, though areas around water can be especially nice — the stock is always changing, there’s often a big variety, water can carry different sorts of rocks from long distances away and rocks tend to just look prettier wet. :)
Those of you near coasts can go beach combing and look for shells, too, of course. That’s our favorite thing to do when we’re on vacation by the ocean. Since we live smack dab in the middle of the country, though, mostly we have to settle for rocks.
Which works for us.