As a youngster growing up on a small family farm, one of my chores before the planting season started was to help gather stray rocks freshly unearthed by the horse and plow. The rocks were not welcomed in the family fields. Rocks pose many dangers for farming tools. A broken plow blade is the worst. I took my job seriously because a poor family like ours did not have the means to replace any of our hard-earned farming implements.
Being the oldest of four, I was also expected to supervise my younger siblings. The two youngest carried small buckets for the ‘baby’ rocks. I would pull a cobbled together wooden wagon while my other sister added the larger rocks in the cart. When we all filled our designated rock containers, we simply dumped the rocks in piles along the outside perimeter of the field.
Even though it was not yet summer, we kids tired after several hours of toting rocks. Mom would carry the water bucket and dipper up to us from our spring house to quench our thirst. With the water depleted, we got back to the task of de-rocking the new field for our tobacco crop. I started to really take notice of the rocks shape, weight and size. I began to appreciate the uniqueness of each rock.
By lunch time, all rocks we collected from the ground seemed to outline the top edge of what was to be the new tobacco field. As I sat and ate my PB&J and apple, I had an idea of how to use the unwanted field rocks for a useful yet fun project. In years past, the collected rock piles remained mostly in the random piles running along the top and the bottom of any new farming space.
I decided to keep this thought to myself until all the work of removing the offending rocks was complete. With three six-hour days and eight small hands, the tobacco field was rock free and ready for cultivation. Our parents would double-check the entire section of land for any hidden or overlooked rocks. After they had completed their inspection, I decided to share my idea.
I saw the rocks as puzzle pieces just waiting for me to fit them into place. I realized that my parents only concern was no rocks got near the plow. So began my passion for using rocks to accent my life. I sorted the rocks by size, shape and texture. My young imagination was brimming with ideas for the rocks to be seen as I saw them.
Small cairns began to pop-up all over the farm. I soon recognized the usefulness of stone. For a Mother’s Day gift, I used stacked field rocks to form a round flower bed. Before long, not a single stone was left from our three days of work.
At almost 36, I am still collecting rocks and creating my style of rock art around my home and for friends who admire my work. I imagine my love of rock art to continue expanding. Go out and rock it up!