A Brief Geologic History

#3 of 5 - in 2008Way back when #3 of 5 was still a cute little “ankle biter” (around 8-10 years old) he had an intense curiosity on all things geological.  He would “collect” rocks from the playground, the beach, the waterfalls, or on any trips we took.  If there was an interesting (or even non-interesting) rock to be had, he collected it.  This young lad had buckets (plural) of rocks in his bedroom. 

We picked up some books on Geology, he did a Geology Merit Badge, and was was given rock gifts (like a polished stone egg, and a polished stone box).  If you would have asked me what I thought he would grow up to become, I would have told you (without hesitation) that he was destined to become a geologist.

During this same period, my father was cleaning out his garage, and stumbled upon a rock tumbler that he bought us when we were kids.  (The tumbler was only used once that I remember – because it is a very length and involved process).  Knowing #3 of 5’s interests in all things “rock”, he gave it to me. 

I was very excited, as was #3 of 5 (which was no surprise to us) – so we quickly we went to work picking through all his rocks to find the ones we thought would look best polished.  With the rocks picked out, I ordered the necessary selection of “grit” to achieve the results we were looking for and set up the rock tumbler. 




Not long after we started, the motor on the twenty(+) year old tumbler burned out.  I wasn’t all that surprised – the tumbler sat unused for nearly two decades.   What I WAS surprised about was how much a new rock tumbler cost!  I did a little bit of searching and located a source for a lower cost rock tumbler. 

Once I got that one home and running, it too quickly failed.  Repeatedly.  The more I tried to keep it working, the more things went wrong.  After three sets of belts, an overheated motor, and worn bushing, I took the barrels off the tumbler, set them on my work bench, and “shelved” the whole project.  I told myself (and #3 of 5) that I would find a different option one day, but for now I had to put the project on hold.  I could sense his disappointment.  

There on my workbench the barrels sat, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year.  There they sat, often mocking me about how I STILL haven't followed through with completing the project. 

Yes, I could have moved them out of sight and out of mind, but instead I chose to keep them in place I would often see as a reminder that they were still there waiting for us.

IMG_4396  IMG_4398

I would pick up the barrels and give them a shake from time to time.  It often sounded as if they only contained water, but sure enough, once the rocks shook loose from the grit they had settled into - the tell tale sounds confirmed that the rocks we put in the barrel so many years ago were still in there! 

Fast forward seven or eight years.

We were having a family meeting / discussion about improving upon “following through” with chores and cleaning up after one’s self.  We worked our way through a couple of other items up for discussion, when I stumbled over something that bothered me.  It was an example on how easily we all can forget to “followed through” on things, and how terrible I felt about one of my “follow through failures”. 

I admitted my disappointment for never having followed through with #3 of 5 on completing the polished rocks project.  In fact I was so ashamed of myself that as I talked about it, I was choking back tears.

That night, as I fell asleep, I really reflected on why I never finished the project.  Time.  Money.  #3 of 5’s weaning interest in geology.   They were all there, but as I sat thinking about it, I realized they were not really reasons, as much as excuses used to justify why I never completed the project. I felt bad.  No…  I felt terrible!

The next morning, I started researching what it would cost me to get the polisher operational again.  After a couple of weeks of searching, I located the parts necessary to get the rocks tumbling again, and placed my order. 

Once I had ordered the parts I told #3 of 5 what I had done.  As I was talking to him about it I noticed a bit of that “little boy smile” I miss seeing now that he is almost an adult.  I don’t know if it was because we were going to get the rocks polished, because he he was so surprised that I actually followed through, or simply out of nostalgia. I didn’t care.  I loved seeing that smile!

A couple of days ago the parts arrived. 
I repaired / assembled the tumbler, and went outside to retrieve the barrels from their spot on my workbench.  The rocks have been sealed in those barrels in their bath of water and grit - and have not seen the light of day for just under a decade.  They have been through more freeze/thaw cycles that I care to think about, and have all but boiled in the summer heat of my garage.

Two of the barrels still contained the same rocks and the water grit slurry that we sealed inside so many years ago.  Since it is Feburary in Minnesota, these two barrels were frozen.  I placed the barrels in a bath of hot water, and once I could hear that the ice released it’s grip on the slurry and rocks (by shaking), I placed one of the barrels on tumbler and I’m happy to report that the rocks are officially tumbling again!!

This morning when #3 of 5 came up from his bedroom this morning, his face lit up again.  He had that “little boy smile” on his face when he asked me if those were our rocks, and I answered “yes”! 

I am hoping he is as eager as I am to open that barrel and take a peek back in time
and enjoy a
little bit of “geologic history”!

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