When I was a kid my favorite thing to do was to collect rocks. Of my summer jobs, I think I enjoyed rock picking in the fields the best. We were to remove anything larger than our fist so the equipment would not be damaged when my dad went to do spring planting. We found small rocks and large rocks and even boulders that camoflauged themselves as tiny stony iceberg tips. We needed the loader bucket on the tractor to carry those out to the fence line. Being near the Iowa Great Lakes (Okoboji), glacial treasures abounded! We found quartz and red granite, sandstone with water holes, flakes of shale and mica, tons of agates, fossils, coral and round spheres we called “dinosaur eggs”. We also found the occasional arrow head. I spent hours sorting and washing and selecting the prettiest and most interesting stones.
I loved to climb the rock piles - had to watch for snakes and other critters that liked that habitat. But that added to the excitement of our imaginary adventures of climbing mountains, being a geologist or an archeologist, or excaping from “bad guys” while having ‘shoot outs’ like the old westerns on TV. We also attempted to build walls and ‘houses’ with the rocks until Dad said we had to keep them in the pile so he wouldn’t run over them with the pickup.
I always had rocks in my pockets, on my window sill, my bedside table and my secret treasure chest (a shoebox I kept under my bed). Come to think of i,t I still do! These days, I hear parents say to their kids,”go outside and play”, but in minutes the kids are back at the door saying they are bored or they don’t know what to do. Well, the reason is probably that they have not had an experience of discovery that stimulates their curiosity. Or they need an adult – like you - to share in the fascination of the outdoors!
I saw this article on Geode Hunting in the Iowa Outdoors magazine http://www.iowadnr.gov/Recreation/IowaOutdoorsMagazine.aspx and thought it was a perfect adventure for a budding ‘rock hound’. Get your kids outdoors on an adventure they will always remember – www.keokuiowatourism.org Or go ask a farmer near you if you can pick rocks in the field – they might just take you up on it!
What nature items did YOU collect as a child? Did you have an adult who encouraged your curiosity in the natural world?