I Miss Humboldt County
As I sit here in 100+ degree weather looking out through the heat waves at a grass field so dry that it looks like it could spontaneously combust, I recall my last trip to Humboldt County a few years ago. It was the first time since leaving college that I went up there by myself. It was for work, but I took a day to go to Patrick’s Point State Park and hike down to Agate Beach. This is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Some people may not be impressed, but there is something about it that just feels right to me. The entire beach is made mostly of pebbles about the size of M&M’s (peanut and regular). Each one is smooth and rounded by the surf. There are so many colors and varieties, like little planets.
My family and I love to come here and have agate hunting contests. We have contests for who can find the most agates, the biggest, the prettiest, the most interesting, etc. etc. That way, everyone gets to win at least one category. I know, that’s pretty wimpy. After all, who can lose when you are enjoying it so much. The most coveted award is for, of course, the biggest agate. I almost always find the most. I just have an eye for them. I only know one person who was better at it than me. His name was John and he was a geology-major and room mate of mine when I was going to college at Humboldt State University. He could find three or four that were the size of peach stones. I’m convinced that finding agates is a function of Karma. John had very good Karma. I’m sure that there is a science to it too – tides, seasons, storms, geological layers – but why get serious about something that is so relaxing. Just show up, plop down and start hunting. What makes me miss hunting agates at this moment is the cool feel of the damp pebbles, even cooler than the other side of your pillow. My favorite time to hunt agates is during a torrential downpour while wearing a good rain suit. I could do it all day long.
Oh, in case you don’t know what a beach agate is. Have you ever seen those older 70’s style wind chimes that were made of thinly sliced and polished stones that looked like quartz or marble and they have rings in them like tree rings? Those are agates. Google it if you need to. Beach agates are basically those but busted into small chunks and polished by God and the sea until they are wonderfully unique little stones. They range from deep rust color to clear. They always look to me as though they have been dropped in white pain and the paint has only been partially rubbed off. This is what distinguishes them from beach quartz. Agates are are more transparent and have the white “clouds” on the surface. These are apparently a mineral that is harder and more durable than the clear part, so it is left on the outer surface.
It’s funny that the “prized” find is an agate and I always get excited when I find one, but I think I really like the plain ol’ rocks just as much. I always toss a few of the more colorful ones in my pockets and when I get home I put them all in a small jar, carefully filled with water, but no air bubbles. They are, of course, most beautiful when they are wet. I would be a crime, I think, to put them in a stone polisher. We cannot possibly improve on God’s fine work. Like people, there are billions and each one is as unique as the stars. Some are agates that we are searching for, some are colorful stones that bring beauty to the world but are found inadvertently. All require a certain amount of good Karma to realize the pleasure they bring.
It’s darn hot right now.