You can tell a lot about a person, or a geologist anyway, by the rocks they keep. You can find them, usually cluttering shelves and porches, collecting dust and spider webs, or used as book ends, garden bed borders and paperweights throughout the house. There is, no doubt, more of them in boxes, drawers and closets, tucked away, and carried from house to house. They serve as true a record of the person, the ground that they have walked over, their work and passions, as they do of orogenies, ancient sea floors and catastrophic eruptions. A sample:
Thousands of bags of pumice, weighed, wrapped in wax, labeled in green permanent marker.
A volcanic bomb, fourteen pounds, hiked out of the Arizona volcanic field cradled in my arms.
Iron-rich basalt, encased in calcite and weathered to a bright pink. Hauled home from Costa Rica by a friend.
Sandwich bag, filled with black primordial ooze, gifted from a friend visiting the tar pits.
Small bottle of ash from the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens.
Geodes, 22, gifted from a student's grandfather's collection after he passed away.
Salt block, hounded in Nevada, evaporated to less than half it's original size in the Oregon humidity.
Obsidian, with flow lines, from the Newberry flows.
Fossiliferous limestone, collected in Montana, that has graced the front porch of every house I've lived in since 2001.
Hardened clay, formed into a cube during a long day of drilling.
Dust, from a thousand day hikes and field areas, caked into the seams of a too-old day pack.