Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why I'll Likely Never Visit Acadia National Park

Witchwood Rock, 2006

Arcadia Park Cracks Down on Rock Thieves

Arcadia…has become a hotbed of pilferers looking to pocket a handful of the smooth, speckled rocks that lines its beaches or the misshapen stones along its hiking trails…Certain kinds of people tend to steal rocks…artists, people looking to build a stone walkway…Schoolteachers are really bad about it…So are people from Florida because there aren’t any rocks down there.

New York Times, July 8, 2009

I’ll confess. I’ve been known to steal rocks.

Other people go on vacation and bring home little statues of the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, or menus, glasses, towels and ashtrays from restaurants and hotels or, when all else fails, t-shirts that say “Mind the Gap,” or “I Got Crabs in Baltimore.”

I bring home rocks.

My wife laughs about this. But I like to think that my collection of stones is part of the long tradition of citizen geologists bringing back little pieces of the natural world to share some day with grandkids.

I try to hold myself to a single example from each place. A narrow piece of schist from the Red Rocks of Sedona. A large, oblong volcanic stone from the Pacific coast. Flat river stones from the Shenandoah and the Saint Lawrence. A chunk of marble from Italy. A blob of coral from Greece.

Some of the rocks I’ve brought home have ended up as accents in our garden. Some sit on shelves in my office. Some are door stops.

I have to admit, there’s something about the rocks of New England. It’s the one place I’ve collected whole bags of them. It’s surprising, though, that they’d complain about you taking rocks from there since practically everything you ever learned about New England had to do with how difficult it was to farm or do anything else in the region’s rocky terrain. Rocks are so plentiful up there that they build walls, houses, benches and anything else they can think of out of them. You’d think they might appreciate someone hauling a few away.

In any event, the rangers of Acadia National Park needn’t pursue me. There are stones from Maine looking down at me right now from a shelf. But I’ve never been to the Acadia National Park. Given the stern warning of the story above, I probably won’t because I’m sure I’d be tempted to bring a few rock samples home, and it would be embarrassing to have to explain to those hypothetical grandchildren of the future that granddaddy has a police record for transporting rocks across state lines.

The rock shown above is from the shore of Katama Bay on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. I don’t know how it attained its shape. It looked to me like Brancusi had gotten ahold of it before me.


  1. THAT was a great post, Chris!! I have to laugh, because I bring home rocks from all my trips, for Joe. (Like I need one more thing to carry or keep track of on these crazy trips?!) But I have to say, the rocks in the western part of the country are infinitely different from our east-coast variety. I'll have to keep this in mind when I head up to Maine at the end of July--hadn't been thinking about rocks for that trip, but you're absolutely right. My son's dad's grandfather built lots of stone walls up near Colgate University, as I recall.

    I'm always leery of winding roads whose signs tell you about "falling rocks." What, pray tell, are you supposed to do about them as you're meandering around them?? I wish they wouldn't tell me about them--if I'm going to die from rocks falling on me, I prefer to just be surprised by it.

  2. We've had this habit for a while now too, and it has rubbed off on the girls, both of whom now often come home with rocks. I recently had to remove one from the washing machine (what's that noise!?!) after SM left a stone from our 4th of July trip in the pocket of her shorts...

  3. I heard that Stonehenge was just a bunch of rocks some ancient fellow took back from his holidays in Wales. His wife was tripping over them in their hovel so he thought he'd better build a quick henge. Get them out of the way.

  4. I wish my Grandpa told me about his trouble with the law from stealing rocks. You just can't make that up.
    Found your site from following your talented Daughter's twitter.