The exterior of a rock is a reaction to the outside world, a document of the action of time. How far has this rock come? Is it rounded? Did it experience turmoil, abrasion, exposure? Has it broken down readily or resisted, remaining compact, intact? Are some parts eroded away leaving others to stand out more durable, harder, more resistant? When she sees a rock, before she breaks it with a hammer, these questions surface.
As soon as she sees it, the rock begins to tell her a story. Each rock is a beginning and the story. Each rock is a chapter. Each rock is a character. Each rock is a setting. Each rock is a memory. She becomes the collector and the narrator of the stories…
With each rock a relationship develops. Magnified by the hand lens, the surface of the rock draws her into another landscape enhancing the one around her. In the surfaces, she sees other worlds. Each rock evokes a place she has passed through, touched the surface of.
These rocks are the survivors. They are the ones she keeps. These are the ones she decides not to leave behind. They are pieces of the places she loved the most, the places where the known world faded from memory and consciousness, the places where she stood alone under the sombrero absent from the world of humanity, the pack on her back, a hammer in hand, the leather boots laced on her feet, a lens held to her eye…a detective, a collector, a prospector…
Each crystal mineral structure pigment chemical matrix mass contained in the rock has a name. But the name is merely a name. Its reality subsumes the name, is the nameless beauty of formation and alteration. These rocks exert magnetism, an invitation to be held, to be examined. They are submissive, exhibiting a longing for possession inherent in objects of beauty, a longing which affects her. In the jargon of prospectors and geologists, such rocks acquire the name of ‘sexy’ rocks.
Whether gathered as specimens or for the ‘mantelpiece’ such rocks are a visual record. Taking them away in her backpack, she has a document of the moments of their discovery, of the first encounter. It recalls the sun on the slope, color vibrating around her standing there examining the surface, oblivious to the burning on the forearms, the sweet sweat trickling between the breasts, exuding from the armpits, the thrum of honeybees in the yellow blossoms, the yearning for an evaporative breeze, the barrage of names and explanations. Such rocks taken evoke the place and the moment becoming a record of time and visual space.
Afterwards, out of context, collected rocks seem small and insignificant as if their magic was an illusion created by the spatial and temporal states in which they were first encountered. Still, they are all that is necessary to provoke the senses, like a seashell replaying the sound of the surf from the waves on the shore from which it was first gathered.
The value of these rocks is a sentiment created by their ability to hold time…the incomprehensible geologic time of their formation and subsequent journey and the moment in which they were discovered and recovered from the surface upon which they existed…
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Vignette VIII La Turquesa drainage