ESCANABA - "As dumb as a box of rocks," some people say.
Maybe I have rocks in my head and I like things set in stone but I love rocks!
My family owns a box of rocks. I know that does not sound very interesting, but it is good solid fun.
Karen Wils photos
A pile of interesting rocks by my garden.
A piece of limestone that I painted a bear on when I was a kid.
Have you ever had a small child reach down and pick up a pretty rock? The grimy little fingers hand you the prized pebble. "Save the pretty rock, Mom," they say.
Even before the children came along, I had a habit of collecting weird stones or rocks for my garden wall. Fossils too, were treasured finds.
Escanaba means "flat rock," a prefect name to describe the river with the limestone bed that put our city on the map.
Limestone is often described as being like the soap scum in the bottom of the bath tub after all of the water has run out. Limestone, the lovely sedimentary rock so prevalent in our area, is full of fossilized skeletal marine organisms.
When I was a youngster, I stepped barefoot on the cephalopod and brachiopod fossils on the stones along the river near camp. I could imagine ancient giant tentacle creatures in a watery world and huge corrals swaying in current.
The box of rocks started years ago when my Dad found an arrowhead when he was building the camp. Chipped pieces of shiny quartz were added. On a family picnic trip to Lake Superior, some smooth agates made the trip home and found their way into the box.
In my younger days, a fun family outing was a ride to the end of the Stonington Peninsula for some fossil hunting and wading in the cool water.
Hikers, bikers and outdoors people have rekindled the art of making cairns (these are man-made stacks of stone used to mark trails, beaches or just to be beautiful).
Just think if a polished lake tumbled rock could talk, think of all of the history it could tell! Rock piling is a peaceful combination of history and art.
My brother, Dave, carries a smooth, dark pebble that he calls his lucky stone. I have a cool piece of grey shale in my purse at all times. It still smells of spring water and the wild.
As the summer season rolls in, we will again see the importance of rocks. How much money do you think will be spent on decorative stones and gravel for gardens and yards?
How many vacationers will travel to see Picture Rocks National Lakeshore? Can you imagine going all summer without skipping a single stone across a pond or river?
Rocks, stones and pebbles are a part of the Earth. No matter how modern and civilized we become, there still is a part of us that has a need to touch the Earth.
A box of rocks is so much more than just little souvenirs. Rocks are the toys of Mother Earth.
Have fun touching the timeless stones and the stories they can tell.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.