Noun: a strong desire to know or learn something.
Ever curious about the world around me, I picked up some of the rocks on the table in Susanna’s music room and turned one over and over in my hand. Immediately, I began asking Susanna a series of questions: Where did you get these? How are they formed? Can we go get more?
Susanna — herbalist, organic farmer, owner of Raven Crest Botanicals, and the amazing woman who said yes when I asked to volunteer on her organic farm earlier in the year — patiently answered all of my questions in the music room of her house that sits on 250 acres of beautiful farmland in upstate New York.
I learned that the rocks are called concretions and Susanna had visited a woman named Stephanie a few miles down the road from her farm to pick out a few. Susanna and my other friends from the farm, Yoav and Thomas, explained that no one is quite sure how the rocks are formed, and that they are only found in certain parts of the world. Some believe that the energy of each planet is held in place by a mysterious grid and that the concretions mark this grid of energy. Other theories have to do with concretions being fairy stones or serving as the currency of aliens. Clearly, there is a wide spectrum of speculation on the matter.
Susanna and Yoav had brought home dozens of rocks and together we marveled at their simple, yet complex beauty. Before the end of my visit to the farm, I promised myself I would visit Stephanie to pick out my own concretions and hear her thoughts on their existence and formation. A few days later farm friends Ashley, Peter and Ben, and I went to visit Stephanie who we referred to as “the rock lady.”
We pulled up to her quaint, white house off one of the busier streets near the farm. Stephanie had set up all of her rocks for us on the porch in containers organized by price. I learned that the rocks are monetarily valuable and that Stephanie makes some of her living from selling the concretions to museums and collectors on the internet.
Her passion for the rocks came through in her excited voice and wide eyes. Stephanie explained how the thousands of concretions that she holds dear were found in creek beds of Schoharie Creek tributaries. She would not tell us her secret concretion spot though and explained how some folks are so interested in finding the rocks that they threatened to GPS her location.
Also on her porch were rocks that resembled turtle shells. She said that they are extremely valuable to collectors because of their connection to Native American folklore.
The myth of the “Great Turtle” or “Turtle Island” is believed by Northeastern Woodland tribes including the Lenape and the Iroquois. The Iroquois believe that Sky Woman (also known as Atahensic or Ataensic, who is the sky goddess that was carried down to Earth by the wings of birds at the time of creation) fell down to the earth when it was covered with water. Many animals tried to swim to the bottom of the ocean to bring back dirt to create land. Muskrat succeeded in gathering dirt, which was placed on the back of a turtle, which grew into the land we know today.
I thought the story of the ‘Great Turtle’ was beautiful and I chose a concretion that had a turtle shell pattern on the top from Stephanie’s collection. I was thankful that I had asked so many questions about the concretions and that we all went on a journey to learn more about them and their origins.
In 2014, I resolve to stay curious about the incredible world that we live in and continue to ask plenty of questions each day. I resolve to learn new things and stay informed and aware of global issues. I will write letters, sign petitions, speak at public events, attend rallies, make phone calls and spread the word about problems that need attention. I will advocate for causes I am passionate about: the environment, education, sustainability, real food, organic farming, and social equity. I will volunteer; I feel that I am my best self when I am serving the community. I ask you all to join and make impact on the world we live in. Together, we can make 2014 a year for the books.