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Pocket Rocks

Figure 1: Bristol Underwood and assorted pocket rocks from her purse, at the Dirty D's, with some tots and cider.

That groups of people will always have a thing, is basically all I know about people and things. Pocket rocks are one of these valuable people things [Figure 1]. There are team jerseys and corporate slogans, occult hand shakes, and safeguarded passwords. We, the rockhounds combing through gravel bars in your backyard, have pocket rocks. This anomaly is more than an amelioration on traditional tokens denoting a hobby or trade. Pocket rocks are the ineffable consequence of a fundamental desire for connection to the natural world blurring into the mobilized modern age.

This natural phenomenon develops wherever there are geologic goodies to be found. Which is everywhere. Earth is a giant ball of spinning crusty molecules. A provocative, eurdite orb. A slowly cooling -but still very hot- mess crawling with self-aware creatures accruing trophies littered about the eroding landscape. Some of these creatures are even people (har har). And the trophies are pocket rocks. The recipe goes like this: You see a shiny rock, or a colorful something-or-other in the sand, or water, or muck, and BAM! a talisman is born. Add in a little scientific curiosity, a pinch of self-reliance, a giant heap of inspiring gumption, douse this cocktail with your own natural flavors & you're made in the shade. Figuratively made in the shade, as rockhounding entails a lot of hot days slinging dirt and wielding hammers. Before long, you are a walking testament to your explorations and frivolous curiosities, merely by the contents of your jeans (don't be gross, I refer only to your pocket). As the author and self-proclaimed Master Overlord of this blog, I have taken on the conversational mantle of hosting an upbeat discussion with every pocket rocker I encounter [Figure 2].

Figure 2: Owner of Audrey Long Ceramics, Audrey Long, with a handful of goodies including a chip of quartz and a Shiva stone.

I refuse to flatter myself by thinking the habit of consecrating innocent coffee house tables into swanky geologic displays is rare. Lots of people are carrying around rocks in their pockets, purses, car doors, and spare clothing spaces. And guys... I've met a lot of them [Figure 3]. Most unshockingly, just as birds of a feather flock together, hounds of a rock mine the same block (patent pending on that gemy turn of a classic phrase). In this case "the same block" refers to embracing the generalization that being interested in a science keeps you constantly enveloped in it. For instance, fish scientists are supposed to smell like fish. Botanists are supposed to have greenhouses. Bug taxonomists are supposed to carry around jars of toxic specimens (although that is literally what happens in one episode of Bob's Burgers), and geology nerds are packing pocket rocks.*

After a while, most folks warm to the idea, blithy partaking in the sharing of nature collecting hobbies. Even, and especially, if they do not savor skulls, feathers, flowers, and rocks to the same extent. Whether this is an affect of manners, patience, or a deeply anchored sense of tact, is irrelevant to the fish, plant, bug, and rock people of the world. Ask about someone's hobby collection, and you usually be surprised at the generosity of the community around you. At least in regards to their little stone tokens. I have hatched many a theory as to the appeal of pocketing rocks for a day out and about. Of them, the strongest would be that collecting in general is an attractive habit when you're deeply engrossed in a subject. I carry pocket rocks for tons of reasons.

Figure 3: Owner of The Crystal Habit rock shop, a stand of rocks at the Astoria farmer's market, and purveyor of rock-related wisdom, Frank. The stone is his "very best stone," a six star Idaho garnet.

Why I Pocket Rocks:

I like the way it feels in my hand.

I like the way it looks.

I like to have props when I tell stories (I am always telling stories).

I like the geologic event it reminds me of.

I like the person it reminds me of.

I like the activity is reminds me of.

I like to think it has good juju.

I am testing its juju.

I am trying to impress someone.