Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hot Rocks

I spent the morning today doing some volunteer work at the historical society’s museum in my old hometown, and I took the opportunity to drive up into the canyon east of Glendora and pick out some big boulders for decorations in my backyard. I’m surrounded by mountains where I live and surprisingly, I can’t find a place around here that has a multitude of available rocks with easy access. When they were clearing land for a giant outdoor mall a few years ago, I scavenged a collection of great rocks (like the one pictured above), but now that I want some more, larger ones, the regular spot is currently under a building.

Instead, I drove all the way up Little Dalton Canyon in Glendora as far as the road would take me, crossed a foot bridge and descended down next to a small brook that’s been quietly carving out the canyon for thousands of years. Until I’m actually there, I always forget the solitude of the forest and how peaceful it is. No cars, no people, no concrete, no interruptions from my cell phone or the obnoxious fog horn sound I use to announce an incoming email. Just me, standing on a rock the size of my Volkswagen, watching the water trickle by.

I wanted to stay there all day, and if it wasn’t so hot and my skin already blisteringly sunburned, I might have found a place to sit down and contemplate the meaning of life, how to get a head and how to make the most of it. Frankly, it is nearly impossible to think about escaping the rat race when you’re surrounded by them, and one way is to inhale a big chunk of the olfactory goodness that is the forest. Though, I’m not an expert of natural vegetation of the Southwest, I know what I like… the ones with the yellow flowers, those light green ones that have tiny stingy things on them…

Interesting side note is that I came across a variety of metal pipes, exposed through the ground here and there in the creek bed, and if you know anything about early Glendora history (well, since I'm currently writing a book about it, I do), these pipes were conduits for the early irrigation systems, set up by the town's early pioneers to water orchards, gardens and to drink from. Talk about taking indoor plumbing for granted; it really makes you think about how nice and convenient our lives are, no matter how much we complain about them.

Since my primary reason for being there was to abscond with some of nature’s bounty, I realized that there was no way I was going to heft 100-pound rocks up the hill to my truck (at least all the ones I liked were incredibly heavy), so I drove back down the hill a ways until I spied a small dirt road that dropped down into the creek bed again. I don’t have a four-wheel-drive, but I do have monster tires and a great deal of clearance, enough to park right near the water and right near a field of rocks, all primed for the picking.

In the end, I found about 10 good-sized rocks, big enough that I could barely pick them up, but not too big that I snap something in my spine while doing so. As I’m piling them into my truck, I’m thinking that I’m probably doing something illegal. I pictured a forest ranger or police officer, just to be mean, waiting at the top of the hill for me to load all of the rocks before he rolls up and makes me unload them… and then gives me a ticket. I told myself that I would try to convince him that I was collecting them for a geology class, but then talked myself out of it because he’d probably get too nosey. I could be an amateur geologist. I could start dropping names; after all, I met the mayor a couple of weeks before and through various connections I know quite a few people… some even get to sign city checks.

Knowing me, in the end, I’d probably do a lot of “sorry officer,” “yes, officer,” “I’ll put them back officer,” and when I came to that conclusion, I got a little irritated, not only with myself but with society. Why is it a crime to take a few rocks from a creek bed in a canyon? The whole world is made up of them, and it isn’t like the canyon is suddenly going to run out of rocks one day. "That's it! There's no more rocks in the world. Thanks to you, Ryan, we've jettisoned the last one deep into space in the vane hope that some creature from another world will intercept it and take better custody of our precious rocks than we did. Curses." Groan. The Earth will most certainly make more, so why would it be a big deal to move them from one part of the planet to another? In a thousand years, what is going to be left on my street? My house? My cars? My lawn? Me? Certainly not, but I guarantee that rock will still be sitting there... gloating.

The officer would probably make the “what if everyone did it?” argument, which is always a ridiculous line of rational. Everybody doesn’t do everything, so we’d never have to worry about it, but so what if they did? Like I said, there aren’t any environmentalist groups out there trying to get you to sign a petition to save the rocks. You can’t throw a rock without hitting one; they’re everywhere!

So I heaved a collection of colorful and interesting rocks into the back of my truck, probably about 800 pounds of them (I’d say the smallest one weighed about 50 pounds), and I sneaked back up the hill and down the canyon with my bed full of hot rocks… literally. It was, like, 95 degrees up there and these rocks had been sitting in the sun since…well, since forever. Carrying a 75-pound rock isn’t fun to begin with, especially over uneven terrain, but to have the rock be black granite, it was like carrying a frying pan to my truck. Not to mention, the rocks were grinding against my sun burnt arms the whole way.

I know, I know… crime doesn’t pay… but have you seen the price tags they slap on rocks this size? They’re expensive like they’re rare gems.

It’s a freakin’ rock!

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