Writing and rocks

My husband knew better than to ask “whether.”
Instead, he simply asked me “when.”
When could I teach my son’s Cub Scout den about geology?
Then he gave me a list of possible dates.
I was leery.
It’d been a long time since I’d buried my nose in rocks, 25 years to be precise.
I had always had a passion for earth science, but I loved books and writing more. Still, when it came time to declare a college major, I couldn’t bring myself to choose English.
I had moved out on my own at 17, during my senior year of high school. I had worked full time most of my junior year and all of my senior year while juggling sports and school work. I didn’t want to work that hard anymore.
An English major, I thought, wasn’t practical.
I wouldn’t make any money.
Too much stress.
So I choose my second love: rocks.
Or, more formally, geochemistry.
That lasted one semester.
Remember when I said I wasn’t willing to work that hard anymore?
Geochemistry is a lot of work.
So I drifted about as “undeclared,” taking courses in English and in interpersonal communications here and there simply because they were fun. Next thing I knew, my “fun” courses became my dual major and I was working full time as a journalist.
I had made the writing thing work.
And I forgot about rocks.
Until our oldest son became a toddler.
He was fascinated by rocks and fossils, and still is.
As I helped him hunt fossils and identify a few minerals, I realized just how rusty I’d become. My knowledge was old. I was busy. I didn’t have time to rekindle old passions, I thought.
But then this opportunity came along.
These kids, these Webelos Ones, are counting on me.
They want their badges.
I knew I couldn’t just wing it.
So I dove back in.
It took me about 30 minutes of review to realize why I loved earth science so much. As a hobby, it’s easy. No physics involved. No need to memorize world history. No calculus. Just me and a bunch of minerals. Minerals that might have been touched, walked on or looked upon by anyone from cavemen to Cleopatra to JFK.
My love for writing and my love for rocks are not separate passions. They stem from the same sense of curiosity, the same craving to imagine and create, the same appreciation for beauty and art. Rocks are, for me, a muse.
So next Tuesday, I’ll hand three Webelos Ones paper plates full of clay. I’ll watch as they smash chunks of clay together to create mountains. I’ll pay special attention to their eyes as they discover the beauty of creation and evolution.
I might even smile as order them to clean up the mess (because they are sure to throw the clay at something or someone when we’re done. How could they possibly resist?). I’ll smile because I’ll be thinking, thanks Tom.
Thanks for asking me “when.”

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