Things are getting rocky in the house

Published 1:03 am Friday, September 2, 2011

Any day now I am going to post a sign on my front door that says, “Gravel for sale.”

Everywhere I turn there is a little pile of pebbles in our house, and the number of piles seem to be increasing at an exponential rate.

I know they didn’t come from my wife. I am pretty certain that the cat is not dragging them in each night. No, I think I know a little 2 year old who is responsible for these rock collections.

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I remember those days when, as a kid, I collected almost anything you could think of.

At various points in my childhood I had a coin collection, a stamp collection, a butterfly collection, a leaf collection and a rock collection.

I also collected baseball cards, Matchbox cars and, most importantly, Star Wars action figures.

I don’t know if my collecting obsession was just the little mad scientist in me or if it was early signs of hoarding.

Whatever it was, it must have driven my parents crazy. I imagine they must have walked through our rural Alabama house like soldiers maneuvering through a minefield — not knowing what insect, rock or Matchbox car they might step on next.

As a kid, I didn’t give much thought to how much room my treasures occupied. Neither did my sister or brother who had their hobbies and collections too.

It’s a wonder that my mother didn’t threaten to open up a museum and sell tickets.

I don’t recall when I started keeping things, but I wonder if it was as early as my son has begun. I should have recognized his burgeoning fascination when he stopped on our regular walks at the corner of Jefferson Street and Union Street to play with the rocks in front of the old gas station. I should have clued in when, instead of throwing the pebbles that surround the playground at Duncan Park, he wanted to pocket them to take home.

I guess as a parent you sometimes do not recognize your child’s interests until they have gotten out of hand.

Now our house has tiny piles from his various rock reconnaissance trips in various corners of the house.

A recent survey found pebbles beside his unfinished plate of scrambled eggs and toast, stones under his pillow and even rocks lining the rim of the bath tub (they must have needed extra washing).

Unlike those trips with my grandparents to the North Carolina rock museum when I was wowed by the geodes, quartz crystals and fools gold, Gibson does not discriminates when he collects rocks. He is not interest in the fancy rocks. All of that shiny stuff is a little too “Hollywood” for him. No, all of his rocks look remarkably the same.

But don’t tell that to him, because I am sure he knows each rock and its unique features. He may even have already given them names.

His mother has already promised to pull the rock collection she and her brother put together when they were young. She said she, too, was very proud of her display of colorful rocks.

With the collecting gene coming from both sides of the family, I guess the Hillyer house better be prepared for a large rock collection.

Anybody need their driveway regarded?

Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at