Monday, September 8, 2008

Flipside of International Rock Flipping Day: Rocks we cannot flip.

Erratic A, somewhere near Haliburton, Ontario.

My father was a high school teacher who over the years taught many subjects. The one he carried around in his head for sharing was geography--specifically, physical geography. As we drove the complex, glaciated landscape of southern Ontario, he would point out drumlins, signs of the great Oak Ridges Moraine, the ancient shorelines of the vast ancestors of the Great Lakes and the deep valley spillways that fed them. But for whatever reason, perhaps because they were discrete and therefore more easy for a child’s mind to comprehend, he delighted in pointing out erratics, the eroded rocks carried atop and within the ice sheets, eventually to be unceremoniously dropped in a foreign place, there to stay until dynamite, heavy machinery, or another ice sheet came along.

We rented a cottage in the Haliburton Highlands when I was somewhere in between the present ages of our children. It had its own erratic, which determined where the driveway joined the road. We walked that road a lot, and probably always commented on that rock as we returned.

“That’s an erratic, right?’

“Yes. That’s an erratic.”

“The glacier brought it here.”

“Yes, it did.”

“And now it’s ours?”

“Yes, it’s ours.”

We never got tired of that. Good rituals are small, but about things huge.


Erratic B, somewhere near Vancouver, BC, which I showed our children last summer. It is, officially, “Whoa, the biggest rock in the world!”

4 comments:

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Very nice story and geo lesson

kompoStella said...

they are great, those chunks of history in the forest - i like to sit on them and enjoy the rain / filtered sun rays / moss / view / sounds...

Hugh said...

Thanks, Aunt Debbi.

Yes, KompoStella, they are old friends, deserving of a visit.

pookie said...

My favorite childhood books were Elizabeth Enright's _Gone-Away Lake_ series, and I fondly remember a chapter about a huge rock which starred in an elderly man's engaging story of his youth. He dubbed it the "Philosopher's Stone," and for many years when I was able to escape LA and head to any woods, anywhere, I used to be in search of my own personal philosopher's stone, asking each huge rock I came across if he were The One.