There are days when you leave the house with a teabag full of tumbled petrified wood and there are days when you do not [Figure 1]. This dichotomy reduces my Memorial Day into a blissfully simple one-line tale. You, however, do not get a one-liner. No one does on my blog. That's a waste of good 0s & 1s, when you could get 55 lines of pure, unedited brainspeak.
So, last month, I shot an innocuous text to one biologist/trailsman/snowboard instructor/guitarist who JUST SO HAPPENS to enjoy fine whiskies and societal discussions around a smoldering fire pit. Matt Gibson, upon entering a room, simply cannot be ignored. With a radiant array of adventure tales from West Virginia to Oregon, this human walks among us with tidings of envior-positive warmth. Alas, this is not a story about Matt. Rather, it is a brief (ha! brief) recounting of a man Matt Gibson met in a bar one evening in Wenatchee, WA. After meeting my fellow crew lead at his Wenatchee crew house, Zen and I waited with our heavenly Jimmy Johns #6 sub for the rest of Matt's hiking entourage to arrive. Our party included Matt, myself, my furry shadow, and Ros. I don't know if I ever got Ros's last name [Figure 2]. Seems irrelevant now, as he will be forever immortalized in this blogtastic dialogue as a pocket rocker of the highest order. Ok, so we're about to embark on the trail head for the Enchantments, and get rejected for having brought along Zen. Bum deal!
Mooning over this setback, the three of us murdered a few minutes by firing off other ways to spend the afternoon. A flask exchanges hands, and the talk of huntsmen's apparel flits between the two men while I distract Zen from a pair of black-tailed deer slinking off between a stand of trees. With my anti-knowledge of gun safety (something I should remedy so as to be aware and productive in implementing safe gun practices should the need arise) I am stirred by a strike of brilliance. I know what we can do now! And POP! out of my daypack crackles a brown paper bag with the words, "Tori Red Leaf Earl Grey Peppermint" curling over the stamped image of a stately dodo bird, the company emblem for Mad Hat Tea Co.
Still retaining the splendid taste of minty perfection (peppermint, mind you, spearmint is for schmucks), the rough packaging chattered with its treasures while Matt raised an inquisitive eyebrow. I unfolded the top. Pouring out several dozen stones, I held them out the guys. "Hey, you think we could look for some rocks?," I ventured. My mouth itched preemptively with my usual elevator speech. Matt leaned on the dirt-filmed hitch, erupted with a single chuckle and said, "You really weren't kidding with all the rock talk, huh?" I blinked. "Just look at 'em," says I, investing in the hook-and-reel technique that my beauties might inspire. "I brought these in case you have plants or something that need some decoration. Or maybe a gravel bed outside the crew house, " I added that last suggestion to underscore that it doesn't matter where pocket rocks ultimately wind up. It's about the distribution of love, not the accumulation of talismans. Matt just smiled and ruffled Zen's head in a gesture of amused understanding. He poked a finger between a few stones and said, "Wow those are nice. I used to have a band-mate who did that. You tumbled them yourself?"
"Yea, of course! Check it out, I call them pocket rocks and it's a whole thing I do where I past them along to people who get it, too." Matt politely thanked me and said he regrettably had no where to put them and nothing to do with a bad of rocks. What with his nomadic lifestyle and being an adventure guide, they would just be left or forgotten somewhere and he didn't want that. My lips molded to the first syllables of, "it's a rock, it belongs everywhere, just like you and I!" when Ros returned from the lou. "WHOA! LOOK AT THOSE! Can I see some?!"
For the next twenty minutes, the three of us mused about nature hobbies. I passed my rock hounding guide to Ros who then thumbed through it to reveal his extensive knowledge of hounding the Cascades. "I can't believe this!" Ros swooned over the linear grains of one tree fossil. "Man, and I've been looking for a way to get back into macrame! I'm gonna make some pendants and give one to my girlfriend, and look at this! In here, there's little INTRUSIONS! Man, this is awesome. Where did you say they're from? Obviously, these are from Hansen Creek, they'd have to be..." At this point my face radiated with what I can only imagine was a cringleingly Cheshirian grin. He totally gets it, I thought. "Yea, man," the words manage to squeeze out while I turn over my cell phone for a photo. "You really mean I can have these? Like, why did you bring them all the way out here?" Ros asked with charming innocence. "It's just a thing I do, " I states as matter-of-factly as I could manage. "I like to see what other people see in pockets rocks. Usually, it's something I don't." Matt slowed the car and we got out to climb a short trail overlooking Icicle River. "Ya know," Matt added as we began our assent, "I told you you'd like Ros. Knew it that night we met. Our type always finds weird nature things in common. Glad he's got a use for your bag of treasures."
Yes, Matt, thank you. We four wrapped up our hike along the Icicle and called it quits after some beers and pizza back in Wenatchee. Somewhere, in this outdoorsman's home (or maybe his girlfriend's) there are pocket rocks to be further distributed. Tales to be passed along about the Wheres, Whens, and Hows of rockhounding the PNW, and the pleasure of radiant company spent in the whispering forests of our unavoidably connected human spirit! Once again, this pocket rock tale was brought to you by the geologic expression of nature love that binds us together.