Rockhounding

I love hunting rocks. Whenever I can recruit a companion, I’m off to amass stone curious for my rock garden and personal collection. My theme? “It’s sparkly, hurrah!” Saturday, I enlisted Egor for a boulder hunt. As I gathered supplies for our expedition, our dog Misty raced from the kitchen to the bedroom and back, her toenails clicking like a dozen manic tap dancers. When she hears the jingling of my army surplus backpack, she knows an outing approaches. Usually included in our hikes and excursions, she whined in disbelief when we left her behind.

Driving took over an hour—twenty minutes of freeway followed by forty minutes of increasingly rugged road. Add to that the eternity I took to locate the landmarks of our destination, and you have one impatient husband. Our hunting ground was adjacent to a stretch of power lines connecting our city to the El Paso, TX power grid. The whistling of the wind through the power lines made the sizzles, pops, and hisses of the transformers even more ominous. Reaching to open the back door of our SUV, I recoiled from a sharp static shock. The hair vibrated on the back of my neck with the palpable sensation of airborne electricity.

Weighing the consequences of imminent electrocution against potential rock hauling exhaustion, I moved our vehicle forty feet away from the power lines. In the next two hours, we enjoyed rock hunting bliss. The first hour was punctuated by cheerfully shouted Russian phrases: “Vot On!” (Here’s one), “Dai mne Molotok!” (Bring me the hammer) and “Oy! Slishcom Agromnye!” (Oh, it’s too big). The second hour was punctuated by cries of “Euuugh,” “Oof,” “Ow, ow, ow” and “Pochimoo tak dalyeko?” (why did you park so far away?).

Afraid to burden my SUV with too much weight, we collected six mini-boulders and twelve smaller stones. Returning home happily, we banged our way across the rough dirt road, grateful that we left Misty at home as the rocks shifted and rearranged themselves behind us. Cranking up our velocity to traverse a treacherous expanse of arroyo, I almost struck a man in green camouflage. The wide-eyed fellow gave us a jerky wave as we covered him in dust. At a slower speed, we passed an ancient truck where a camouflaged woman guarded several buckets of gravel with a shovel gripped in her left hand. I smiled and waved, hoping that she did not clutch a Lugar in her hidden right hand. Her eyes followed our dusty departure while her body stood stock still.

At home, our prizes tumbled as we crept up the driveway. I reminded Egor to watch for falling rocks, but he was too tired to unload. Misty greeted us as if we had been overseas for a week bouncing around me as I surveyed our rock garden, mentally placing new stones. As twilight fell, the peace of accomplishment embraced me.

 

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