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Rock hound – Notes of a collector

I’ve been collecting rocks since I was a little boy. The moments spent on the beach picking and choosing the ones I liked the best were the highlights of my holidays. It was like being one of the pieces of the legendary Star of Africa board game. As long as I kept on searching, before long I would come across a real gem. To this day, I still treasure some of the stones that travelled from the beaches of Greece to my home in Finland.

Rocks are found wherever you go

When I come across an abundance of stones on the beach, in the mountains or by a river, my mind instantly travels back to my childhood. I forget about the world, the way it is today. I don’t hear or see the noise of the world. I focus on nothing but finding the unique gem from thousands of rocks. The ones I choose have no monetary value, they are purely of sentimental value.

I never intentionally go looking for rocks. When I’m out in the woods I stumble upon them as if by accident. It isn´t that surprising, given that rocks are found wherever you go in Finland.

Rock collecting is increasing in popularity. Some hunt for ore, some for minerals, and some just to expand their own stone collection. There are still some real-life Indiana Jones types who will dig deep to find gold or semi-precious stones. For me, it’s all about just being in the moment and appreciating the beauty of my findings.

Whatever the drive behind your hobby, the great thing is that it gets you outdoors and exploring nature in all its glory.

Every rock is a unique piece of art

Every rock is a unique piece of art, shaped by the forces of nature. They come in all shapes and sizes, and speak to the ones who pick them up. They appeal to all my senses, even to my sense of smell. Their sharp or soft shape, their smooth or rough texture, they all tell their own story. Even the tiniest of rocks can tell some remarkable stories about the planet we live on.

Perhaps rock collecting could challenge the likes of the video games and smart phones that have captivated our children’s attention. There is more of an adventure to be found outdoors. The woods nearby can act as a real-life board game. Based on my own experience, children are more than happy to participate in treasure hunts when encouraged by us adults. Where adults go, kids will follow.

There is nothing wrong with two adults kneeling and squatting, looking for rocks. In fact, it may inspire others to follow suit. Our built-in hunter-gatherer mentality may be to thank for our innate and increasing interest in rock collecting. In today’s fast-paced world that is centered around social media, nature provides the perfect digital detox. When collecting rocks, we don’t need to be someone else, somewhere else. Those moments are the perfect mix of something familiar, decoded in our DNA, and yet something very far from our everyday life.

The stones I have collected have nothing but sentimental value. It is about journeying together, being part of nature. The joy of searching and finding. When you find something that holds no monetary value, the real value is determined by none other than you. That is like being part of the big secret of nature – and in today’s hectic world it’s a refreshingly cleansing experience.

Kimmo Ohtonen
Author, journalist and nature photographer

Translation by Laura Ohtonheimo


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Kimmo Ohtonen

Author, journalist and nature photographer

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