The Rock’s Story

About that dime: It’s just to show off how big and strong I’ve managed to stay despite my many years of erosion.

“Are you going to keep that rock hanging over my head? It’s been 30 years,” he said.

“Maybe!” she said. “But really I keep it because I like it. It represents strength and true love.”

I’m glad she kept me sitting on her dresser all these years. It’s been a very quiet thirty years.

My life started eons ago, taking the slow painful journey through glaciated North America. My history has been long and cold, not sure how long it lasted really. I was nestled snuggly between the hard ground and my icy blanket, scraping along an average of 2.4 inches per month during those years. (How do I know, you ask? Well, it was really boring, and I had much time to do math calculations.)

Finally, the Ice Age ended, and for the past two million years I’ve been inching my way up through the accumulated moraine.

1983 A.D. – Whew! I finally made it! To the summit. I landed in Holland, Michigan, in a dirt pile, dug up recently by men in orange suits wielding heavy shovels and water bottles. Now, there I was lying in a very small, low-profile pile of rocks and dirt, and soon I was being invaded by the quick-growing summer grass of western Michigan.

One day newlyweds were out doing yard work. One with a broom. One with a power mower. Up and down the rows he went with his foul-smelling machine. He came closer, and I was trying hard to wiggle down and tuck my butt into the dirt. I felt so vulnerable. I wasn’t sure what that machine did, but it was getting way too…What the?…Ping, bang, ping, @#*&$%!…Bang, ping, bang…@#*&$%!

What happened? I wondered. In all my billions of years, I never felt anything like that before. It was like I was sucked up into a wild spinning amusement park ride. Only this ride had gyrating metal blades poking out in all directions.

“Hey, be careful,” she said. “I think there’s dirt flying out of your sorry lawn mower.”

“Whoa! What happened to you?” he asked, pointing at her leg.

“You’re shooting pebbles and dirt out of the lawn mower,” she said, as she finally looked down to see my handiwork for herself.

Oops.

And there I was, not far from her shin, feeling sheepish. Did I really do that? I wondered.

She picked me up, with surprising gentleness. She brought me into the house, and then they drove to the hospital.

Three days later, after debridement of the dirty wound (I beg your pardon!) and three days on drip antibiotics, she came home on crutches until she healed from an (only slightly) fractured tibia.

She still wanted me, though.

I have greatly appreciated the thirty-year respite.

The Big One That Got Away

It had been a slow day fishing and we hadn’t caught a thing. My husband and I were heading back to the car when we heard an excited shout: “Hey, come back!” We turned to see a shaggy-haired man with a red beard, whom we had visited with that day, motioning at us to come back to the pier.

We hurried back and he was holding out his fishing pole for me to take. “I saw this fella jump up and he’s an old one. He wouldn’t be good for eatin’. I don’t want him. You want to try to land him?”

“I sure would! Thanks!” I said, as I grabbed the pole. Although I had only met this man that morning, after three hours of fishing near him he had come to learn that I’d always wanted to catch a big fish. (Up until this day, my greatest fishing experience had been catching a two-pound carp from the bottom of Lake Mojave when I was 12 years old.)

I followed all the advice my fishermen comrades eagerly gave me. “Reel in as you move the pole down to the water, then pull back,” my husband said. “Let him run with it for a while. You can tire him out that way,” said Red Beard. I reeled in and pulled back and let that big ol’ fish run as much as he wanted. A half hour of all that and he was getting closer to the pier. I saw him jump out of the water several times. Someone said it was a Chinook salmon. Unlike my fishing mentor with the red beard, I couldn’t tell anything about this fish’s age, but I could tell he was big-he was as long as a bathtub and as big around as a football! And I was catching him!

After nearly forty minutes of fighting, my arms were getting tired and I was hoping Monstro was also getting tired. He was very near the pier now, because all the fishermen were becoming electrified. One angler held a big fish net, ready to scoop him up when I got him close enough. My husband was getting the camera ready. Others were standing around cheering me on.

As he got within a pole’s length from us, we all thought I had him, but abruptly I noticed everything got quiet in the water around the pole. I tugged on the pole and it took just seconds for me to realize my prize had escaped. Red Beard explained what happened. It seems there was a big power cable in the water running between the pilings on the pier and Moby must have swam over and around that cable to snap the line. He got away with the hook still in him.

I was very disappointed, of course. There went my hope of catching a big fish. But now, twenty years later, I enjoy thinking about how that old fella outsmarted all of us. What’s even better than a salmon dinner, is to be able to talk about the big one that got away.