A few days ago, I went to Jacobi Building Supply to buy a rock for my garden. It seemed odd to me at first to go shopping for a rock that comes from who knows where, then bring it home and place it in your yard. I mean, can’t you just find a rock in the dirt of your own yard if you dig deep enough? No, you can’t. I tried it. I dug a couple feet down and found nothing but roots, bits of old pipe, and a few pebbles. Certainly nothing like the rocks I needed.

As I parked my car next to wired bins of rocks and boulders in the Jacobi driveway, I wondered where all these rocks came from. What mountains were disassembled to bring them here? What dynamite blew them up from below? Had some been transported across the barren deserts or the watery deep to end up here on Vanowen Avenue in Canoga Park? How strange.

The guy behind the counter asked me what kind of rock I needed. I held my hands apart indicating size, about the girth of a football.

“Okay,” he said patiently, “but what kind? Granite? Quartz? Sandstone?”

I looked at him blankly.

“What color?” he said with a nod and raised eyebrows.

Ah, color, now that made sense.

“A grayish whitish one,” I said, my hands still held out.

“Out back, tell Hector you’re looking for granite.”

It had rained earlier in the day and the dirt drive was muddy. Hector was a Latino with a heavy accent from some distant land. Maybe the same place where the rocks came from?

I followed him to a large pile of grayish whitish rocks. He pointed to a couple of promising specimens. I tried to lift one out. I couldn’t move it.

“This one, for you?” he smiled lifting it out of the pile easily.

“Yeah, I think that’s a good one. I need another one, too.”

Hector pulled out a couple more and tossed them onto the ground next to the first one. I chose two.

“How much are they?” I asked, realizing that I had no idea how much a rock costs.

“They’re price by the weight. Seven cent a pound.”

“How much do you think these weigh?”

“Thirty for that one, forty okay for the darker other.”

Hector was right about the weight as he plopped them on the carriage scale.

I thought instantly of a man’s weight as measured in the ancient British stone system, a system my ancestors used in a time long ago and a place far away.

I Googled the weight of British “stone” when I got home. It’s 14 pounds. So my rocks were over two stone for the first one, and over three stones for the second one. Stones for rocks with a few chips extra, I said to myself with an inward smile.

The two rocks cost me about $5.00. Not bad for something that weighs seventy pounds and was created before the pyramids.

Of course, I could barely lift them into my Prius, which seemed like an especially silly car to be hauling around primeval stones. And I had to move my yoga mat out of the way for these brutes, which struck me with its own special irony.

I worried I wouldn’t be able to get the rocks into our delicate flower bed without crushing a finger or two or dropping them on my wife’s foot when I called to her to help me carry them.

But we managed. And to be honest, I think they look rather good in our yard, just as much at home here as anywhere else on the planet.


11 Responses to A Rock Of My Own

  1. Elliott says:

    Nice rocks, and great post!
    Handy rule of thumb: figure about 100 lb. per cubic foot of rock. Remember the rock in our front yard? (We sat on it and took pix when you were up here last summer.) About 800 pounds (as I recall) of nice, curvy, soft-edged river rock.

    We get our rocks at a great place in El Cerrito called American Soils. You can drag a wagon around their lot and pick up what you can carry, or have them deliver something bigger. They dropped the 800-pound rock off on the driveway. So, with the help of BL’s brother, we used some long metal poles to lever the thing up onto five or six metal pipes, and rolled it into place like ancient Egyptians, picking up the backmost pipe when the rock rolled past it, moving it to the front, and (carefully) putting it back under the rock. Quite a little domestic adventure for such non-handy folk as we. Fortunately, no body parts were crushed in the process.

  2. Chappell says:

    NICE!!! Only you could make it poetic to buy rocks!!!

  3. Mary eliahu says:

    Great short story, one we can all relate to at one time or another. I have been to that
    supply shop and many thoughts pass through one’s head while looking at all those rocks. Where do they all come from, the center of the earth at one time I guess, loved your thoughts. Mary

  4. Tony De La Rosa says:

    Very nice post. I even imagined I was right there with you. Keep writing.

  5. Graham says:

    ROCK on. Get it? Another great post per usual.

  6. Corina says:

    Hah! I’m actually on my way to go buy rocks, but in my case, they will be much smaller. I need some about half dollar size…lots of them…for landscaping a patch in my yard. Funny thing is that if I could get my son-in-law to dig them out, the yard is full of them but he doesn’t want to dig them out and clean them up so off I go to the quarry to buy some and pay for delivery (there is no way I am going to be able to carry all that weight in my Prius!) etc. At least with the size of the ones I buy, I won’t have to worry about hurting myself if I drop them.

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