Beyond Minerals and Gems

by Julie Yamamoto

I have been interested in rocks since I was very young and recall picking up interesting looking rocks as a child around streams or mountain paths, etc. I am not very knowledgeable about the actual mineral or gem properties of rocks, but I still find rocks to be fascinating, especially how they play such an integral part in nature.

Recently I have had the opportunity to go on some nature hikes through the woods, and I found myself paying close attention to the rocks…and not just for collecting. I like to take photographs when possible on excursions or trips, and I became very intrigued by the interplay of rocks with the forest and with water. I discovered that the very contrast between the hard stones and the organic growth of living things in the forest or movement of water is quite fascinating and often makes for the most unique and captivating photographs as well. Somehow the forests that have a lot of rocks and stones scattered throughout them seem more mysterious and alluring than wood paths lacking stones. I particularly enjoy finding small treasures hidden in between stones laying around the forest floor, the interaction of water and rock, or living things growing all around or on stones. Seeing large trees growing on top or around rock, for example, have always inspired me, especially seeing their roots growing around the rocks. It seems somehow profound to see such a large living thing growing around a hard, inorganic object and incorporating it as part of its very existence and growth.  

One of the hikes I went on most recently was to Amicalola Falls. 'Amicalola' is a Cherokee Indian word meaning 'tumbling waters, and the 729-foot falls are the tallest east of the Mississippi river. This forest has a lot of stones and boulders scattered throughout the woods, and I think I ended up taking nearly 200 photographs because there was so much to see and so many treasures here and there to discover. Some of the best of these shots I have posted onto this page to share. So sometimes it can take me a long time to hike through a path because I am not only discovering things to photograph as I go, but also very absorbed in looking at the rocks and often collecting them as well. One of my favorite quotes from Julia Cameron (author of ‘The Artist’s Way’) goes like this….’the world is a forest of verdant possibility…’ from her ‘Transitions’ book. And that is how I feel when I walk through a forest with this kind of attention to observing all kinds of possibilities.

In addition to discovering various captivating treasures along the path itself, the waterfall itself was magnificent. The interaction of water and rock have also always been a source of inspiration, and I have written many poems simply from contemplating water flowing around rock. So, as part of my excursion to the falls, I wanted to take the time to contemplate the falls to see what words might come to me as a way to remember the moment. And here is the result of that contemplation:

Water and Rock

The water leaps
Over the edge
As if to die
But never more alive

Fearless and bold
Letting go
Dancing wildly on rock
A grand orchestra

Rushing song
Deep in the woods
Harmony of freedom
Rhythm of life

Nature of water
Flows everywhere
Nature of rock
Steady, not moving

Two opposing ways
Bring the greatest beauty
Water and rock
Both become more

Water most alive
At the place of rock
Rock shaped by water
Into shimmering colors and forms

Such is the rhythm of earth
Natures alike whisper quiet melodies
While diverse spirits
Play the passion of life

So in conclusion, for me at least, there is so much more to rocks than just the mineral or gem properties. Somehow they speak to me, especially and most profoundly in their natural earth element. And it could very well be that many of the rocks I actually collect really have no mineral or gem value associated to them, but it doesn’t matter. Because they can still be very special as a memory of a particular excursion, a feeling I might have had when viewing or collecting the rock, or even something about the rock itself that inspires me in some way.

If anyone is interested in seeing photographs from any of my hikes, just click the link below.

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