If you know Montana, you know what I mean when I say it was a Montana type of day. Puffy white clouds dotted the otherwise deep blue sky. There were mountains and there was a river. It felt as if the world was just waking. It was clean and fresh.
Our place was still buried in winter, but we could see the open land down slope. The people who live down there, below us, were in spring. We had to go visit and escape the mountains, if only for a while.
The snow still covered everything above 6000 feet and while the river bottom was soggy and brown, it was snow free. In most areas, a crusted fringe of lingering white ice gripped the river’s edge, refusing to melt.
After driving out of our winter world, we found a spot along the river where we could access a rock covered beach; our house was in view back in the frozen distance. After dressing Oly in several layers, we worked our way along the bank until we could cross a small drainage and search for rocks on an exposed island. It was Oly’s first trip to the Yellowstone River since the snow had abated to the mountains.
Strolling along the river, looking for rocks, is one of my favorite things. I can clear my mind and free myself from the rest of the world. I stumble around plucking different rocks from the sand. Some are chosen for beauty, some for color or shape. Other types catch my eye because of how they were made.
Different people are drawn to different types of rocks. In the world of geology, you are a sed-petter if you study sedimentary rocks, a hard-rocker if you study metamorphic rocks and a hot-rocker if you study igneous rocks or volcanoes.
I’m a hot rocker first. I like rocks that show signs of how the Yellowstone ecosystem was formed. So I stumble along, crouched over, filling my pockets with petrified wood and agate. Today, I filled Oly’s back pocket with a nice piece of petrified wood.
I can see the future. Oly will be walking back to our raft with his swim trunks around his ankles because his pockets are full of rocks. Like father, like son.