When I was young, about a lifetime ago, our family lived in a suburb of Los Angeles. Our house was next to a large field which my older sister said, used to be a farm of sorts with Avocado trees and the like. I only remember it as being a large square of dirt, which was covered with weeds in the Summer months. It does no good including a photo from Google Maps as that dirt “lot” was turned into an Intermediate School some years later with a tall fence separating our house and the parking lot. In looking at all that asphalt and noisy cars today, I would much rather have preferred the old “lot” with its weeds and rocks.
When I was really lucky, back then when I was only concentrated on myself, I was allowed to accompany my older sister on a “Rock Hunting Trip”. We took our red wagon and some burlap sacks, also called gunny sacks (from Sanskrit) out to the field in search of rocks.
I felt really important that my sister would want me to come along with her. It might have been to “lug” those heavy things over uneven terrain, but then it didn’t matter to me. She had a special hammer with a blue handle grip. I found this picture on Google, but I can’t say with certainty that it looked like that, as I’ve seen hammers like that since then, and would tend to mix them up in my memory.
She would then concentrate on her rocks, looking for a particular type, which I didn’t ever seem to understand. I used to dig out the rocks and bring them to her only to have “some” of them rejected as being the “wrong types”. I never remember asking her, how she knew about those rocks, or why it was important to her to find them. I must have done so, otherwise making such a trip wouldn’t have fit into my non-plans.
I also had two other sisters, one older and one younger, but they were never along on these trips. I never remember just how many trips we were on, but then it didn’t matter back then, because our memories were not as long as they are today.
After some hours we returned home with our “treasure”. We would “dump” the rocks out on the ground in the backyard, where she would begin cracking them open with her hammer. Sometimes she would crack open a rock and exclaim, “It’s orange inside” or, perhaps it was orange on the outside of the rocks when we had dug them up, I am a bit foggy on the details now. The important thing was the “orange” color meant that she wasn’t going to get lucky that time.
She continued “cracking open” those rocks until there wasn’t anymore left to crack. She was looking for fossils of sea animals who lived back in time about 16 million years ago, back when Southern California was covered by the sea. Once in a while she showed me what she was looking for: small whitish looking shells, or something like that in the rocks. Over the years we must have had quite a collection of those rocks. I don’t remember what happened to them, after she had found what she had been looking for, but that is a question that only she can answer.
Finding them seemed to make her happy, but not as happy as I was being allowed to assist my older sister on this great expedition, way back when in my past, when summers were hot and long, and we thought we would live forever.