Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to the beautiful and artistic, and in particular, the beauty of art derived from nature. Not only has this has lead to a lifetime of pursuing artistic endeavors, it has spawned a decades-long collection of rocks. Yep. Rocks.
I look at unusual, textured hunks of stone the way most people might gaze at billowing white clouds in a summer sky: as sources of inspiration and fantasy. Some of my most prized rocks are descriptive enough to suggest natural forms — weathered trees, lofty peaks, mighty animals — but abstract enough to leave actual interpretation to the viewer’s imagination.
Everywhere I go is an opportunity for rock-hunting. Whether I’m in the woods or on the beach, my eye is drawn to the rocks in my path, noticing shapes, colors, textures and sizes. Once, when I was walking on the Pacific Crest Trail, I spied a titian brilliance winking in the sun. I picked up a very ordinary gray rock, and to my delight, discovered tiny, sparkling copper-colored crystals along one side. I still have that beautiful treasure.
Here are a few of the rocks I’ve collected over the years — each with their own story to tell.
Click images to view large.
Rocks Tell the Story of the Earth
The Earth is made of rock, from the tallest mountains to the floor of the deepest ocean. Thousands of different types of rocks and minerals have been found on Earth. Most rocks at the Earth’s surface are formed from only eight elements (oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium), but these elements are combined in a number of ways to make rocks that are very different.
Rocks are continually changing. Wind and water wear them down and carry bits of rock away; the tiny particles accumulate in a lake or ocean and harden into rock again. The oldest rock that has ever been found is more than 3.9 billion years old. The Earth itself is at least 4.5 billion years old, but rocks from the beginning of Earth’s history have changed so much from their original form that they have become new kinds of rock. By studying how rocks form and change, scientists have built a solid understanding of the Earth we live on and its long history.
A Grain of Sand, Nature’s Secret Wonder
Did you know that when you walk along a beach, you are strolling upon thousands of years of biological and geological history?
Professor Gary Greenberg, PhD in biomedical research, invented a high-definition 3D microscope so that he could magnify grains of sand 100 to 300 times. By exposing swirling microscopic shells, eroded crystals and colorful coral fragments, he shows us sand that takes on a new reality — revealing hidden and unexpected aspects of nature.
When viewed at a magnification of over 250 times real life, tiny grains of sand are shown to be delicate, colorful structures as unique as snowflakes. When seen well beyond the limits of human eyesight, the miniature particles are exposed as fragments of crystals, spiral fragments of shells and crumbs of volcanic rock.
I encourage you to click on the photo to the right and check out Dr. Greenberg’s sand gallery, it’s beyond fascinating.
Did you ever collect rocks as a child? If so, you probably remember that delicious sense of wonder with every treasure that you spied. What, in nature, inspires that same sense of awe-inducing wonder in you today?