I remember my childhood fascination with rocks, and I wonder why I liked them. I often wonder if perhaps we knew, my brother and I, the history those rocks had seen. Perhaps we were just country kids with simple pleasures? I wonder why we can’t just be satisfied with the simple pleasures of life?
My mom said the other day, “I remember when I’d find you and your brother sitting in the driveway licking rocks.” Mind you, we didn’t lick just any rocks, only the quartz which is momentarily brighter when it is wet. The pink ones were always my favorites, but for the most part I wasn’t particular about color. I was merely fascinated with the fact that licking them would make them brighter, no longer ordinary. Several months ago our family and some close family friends were having a “launch”. A “launch” is just that, we set up some chairs and the youngest of us sit on the ground, and we launch model rockets. I was sitting in the dirt and rocks of the driveway. I admit I was playing with the rocks. I caught myself, rock in hand, halfway to my mouth, tongue out. I couldn’t believe it. Twenty-one years old and I still hadn’t changed. I still wanted to lick those rocks. We occupied ourselves in many odd ways. Obviously, we still do.
As children we were always stranded at home all summer because we only had one car, which my dad drove to work. It amazes me to think that we rode our bikes in the middle of the a hot Texas summer day or wasted precious well water turning Dad’s garden into a swamp. We buried every dinosaur, cowboy, Indian, farm animal, Barbie, and truck that we owned. We were happy with our simple lives. We played outside all day every day. We didn’t have a VCR or Ninetendo. We didn’t even have a color T.V. But then again, we didn’t’ care. We had great imaginations. I suppose we still do.
These days I find that I prefer the old, simple ways. Every thing from childhood seems tried and true, better than the new ways. Everytime I use a microwave I melt the bowl. Brooms with plastic bristles never feel right. Air conditioning is always too cold. Our VCR never works right and there is never anything on T.V. worth watching. Store bought cookies are rarely edible.
I don’t mind waiting longer for dinner to heat in the oven. My mother’s broom has real straw bristles, and I don’t even have an air conditioner in my car. I don’t watch T.V. (books are still the only reliable source of entertainment), and my mother still bakes cookies, homemade.
Some Sundays we just drop everything and go to The Creek. You might know it as Fall Creek, between Acton and Cleburne, but we can it The Creek as if there is no other. My father camped there when he was a teenager and eventually took us, his family, there. In the years we’ve been going, we’ve hiked miles in both directions. Sometimes the water is so cold we can hardly wade in it, but we do anyway. As a family we don’t go to Six Flags or Wet and Wild. Those places are too artificial, too technical for us. We would rather go camping or hike down The Creek. When we go to The Creek I just plain enjoy being there. A place where the world is still real. If this isn’t a simple pleasure then I don’t know what is. I find myself coming home with my pockets full of rocks or if I find myself without pockets I make a hobo sack out my ever-present bandana to carry my rocks home. I fill my pockets with plain, old rocks.
A few years ago, my mother got tired of all our rock collections. I had several wooden cubes, which were originally intended to be unbreakable penny banks, that I pried the lids off of, full of rocks. My mother made us pour them all into a flowerbed that circles a hackberry tree in the backyard, but I secretly hid some of my boxes behind bigger boxes in the attic.
I wonder if I’ll take my boxes of rocks with me when I finally decide to move out? I think I probably will. I still don’t know why I pick up rocks. I just do. I only know it’s something I’ve always doens and will continue to do.
Another simple pleasure.