Posted by on Dec 27, 2011 in Photographs, Sacred Places | 0 comments

The first time I saw a piece of petrified wood, I was a seven-year-old “know-it-all”. My uncle, a geologist for an oil company, owned rocks shaped like roses, rocks with holes in them, diamond-looking rocks, but the oddest one was dark colored and very angular. It looked as though someone had shaped it by hand because no rock I knew of had sides so straight and smooth.

“What kind of rock is that?” I demanded.

”It’s not a rock.  It’s a piece of wood, but it’s heavier than a rock,” my uncle said.

“No it’s not.”

“Yes, it is.”

“No, it’s not.” I repeated.

“Listen, kid . . . it’s wood. I wouldn’t lie to you,” he argued.  (My uncle used to tease me all the time, so there was no way I was going to believe him.)

“Go ahead.  Pick it up,” he sniggered.  “You’ll see.”  Even though the ‘alleged rock’ was only the size of my fist, it was all I could do to hold it in one hand.  It must have weighed 2-3 pounds.

It was then I opened up my young mind and realized that maybe I didn’t know everything.  My uncle sat down and began to teach me about petrified wood.

“It’s very, very old,” he told me. “Older than me and your mother’s ages put together.”

Now-a-days, I have to admire my uncle’s teaching techniques.  He snuck past my disbelief and made me laugh.  The essence of what he told me then, I remember to this day.

“Volcanos covered the earth and one of them shot ash into the air which covered this tree completely millions of years ago. The pressure from the weight of the ash forced its minerals to seep into the wood till it wasn’t wood any more.  People may call it petrified wood, but it’s not really and it’s not rock, either.  There’s even a huge forest made up of this stuff.”

He saw the quizzical expression on my face and before I could ask “then, what is it?” he smiled and said, “It’s a miracle. Think about it. You hold something in your hand that was alive when dinosaurs walked the earth.  Amazing, isn’t it?  Aren’t you a lucky girl to get to hold it?”

“Yup,” I giggled. “You know what?  Maybe a million years from now, somebody will find me and I’ll be a chunk of petrified people.”

 

~J.K. Ingersoll~

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