By James Bates
tonic and lime on the rocks
I found my first agate when I was ten on a gravel road in northern Minnesota. A walnut sized stone with rusty red hues enfolding swirls of white crystals, it was like holding a piece of magic. Its genesis was eons ago, formed from volcanic fires in the depths of Lake Superior, and its journey to that rural road was part glaciation, part mystery. It's hard to find one these days. They're special, and their value is in their rarity.
After my daughter Jenny's funeral, I decided to give it to my eight year old grandson. We were downstairs in my workroom, and I was showing him some of the favorite rocks I'd collected over the years, getting him acclimated. He'd be staying with us for the foreseeable future while his father was recovering in the hospital.
"This is so beautiful, Grandpa Pete," Evan said, visibly awestruck."I love it." It was nice to see him smile for the first time since the tragic car accident that had killed his mother. I told him a little of its history as he gently caressed the singular stone in his small hands, eyes wide with wonder, his thoughts for a moment taken away to happier times. When I was finished he was quiet. I was, too. What would each of our lives be like now, now that someone we both loved so dearly was no longer with us? My Jenny. Evan's mother. After a minute he looked at me hopefully and asked, "Grandpa Pete? Do you think we can we go searching for more of them sometime? I'd really like to do that."
His innocence and quiet voice almost broke my heart. We were both suffering and grieving our loss. Even though the chances of finding any were next to zero, was it too much to hope that searching for agates together would help us both to heal? I didn't have to think hard at all.
"Absolutely," I said, instantly planning a drive north while picturing him cradling a handful of newly found agates in his cupped palms. "Let's go tomorrow."
About the author
Jim is retired and lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to CafeLit, his stories have appeared in The Writers' Cafe Magazine, A Million Ways and Paragraph Planet. You can also check out his blog to see more: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com