Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Former Rock Hound

There's a scene in The Shawshank Redemption, where Andy Dufresne introduces himself to Red Redding and asks if Red can smuggle into the prison a rock hammer. Andy wants to be a "rock hound" again, to continue a hobby that he'd enjoyed prior to his conviction.

The scene reminds me of rock collecting, a childhood joy of mine. I had a little souvenir from a Western vacation: stone samples glued into a box and labeled. I think the box contained granite, gypsum, rose quartz, basalt, obsidian, the always popular fool's gold, and others. I also liked to collect bigger rocks on trips.

When I was a kid, my parents went to nearby St. Louis to shop. One Saturday, Dad drove me out from the downtown somewhere to a rock and gem shop. Now that I live in St. Louis, I'm guessing that the shop was in Maplewood, because the business district of that suburb looks like my long-ago memories of the shop. Dad bought me a rock polisher which tumbled rocks for a designated amount of time and made them smooth and shiny. I'd load the cylinder with the gritty polishing material and the rocks themselves, and wait to see how the rocks looked afterward.

I remembered all this, not to make a lame connection between rock polishing and "polishing" one's writing, but because I've driven over to Maplewood more often recently. The St Louis Poetry Center has regular events (see their website), at least two of which happen in this community. As I wrote here, I've been renewing my interest in poetry-writing these past few years and have become involved in the local poetry scene, a wonderful and unexpected direction of my writing career. Though I'll likely never know the location of that geology shop, I did write a poem (under submission at a couple of journals) about a boy whose hobbies including finding and identifying stones and minerals.

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