When I was a child my dad and I had a newspaper ritual. The Chicago Tribune came to my house in the morning and the Daily News arrived early afternoon. On Sundays we’d divide the papers between us — he’d take the front page and car sections and I’d take the “funnies” and the sports page. We’d read our sections quietly then we’d switch. One day when it was my turn to have the news section, I discovered something wonderful.
Down near the town of Braidwood Illinois, about a two-hour drive from home, 300-million year-old fossils were discovered. I carefully cut the article from the paper and showed my dad. I wanted to go find fossils. He said no. I asked why and he explained that I couldn’t just go pick them up off the ground, I’d have to dig and people wouldn’t want me digging on their property. I kept that newspaper clipping for years because one day I would go look for fossils and no adult would tell me no. I didn’t know it at the time but I’d put the first item on my bucket list.
This past Saturday I went to that spot near Braidwood Illinois to find fossils. And it only took me 48 years to get there!
The fossil location is considered Lagerstätten. That means the deposits of fossils are extraordinarily rich and complete. The word literally means lode places e.g. mother lode. There are some amazing Lagerstätten deposits around the world. The USA has a few, Mazon Creek (the area I visited yesterday) and California’s La Brea Tar Pit among them.
So yesterday’s trip was grueling. Dad was right. You can’t just find them on the ground. We trudged through brush and mud and climbed high slippery hills to dig them out of the spoil piles. These piles were left from coal mining that ended in the area many years ago. At one point I went rolling down a steep hill and stopped only by grace of a fallen tree in my way. Someone had to be the comic relief. Aside from discovering newly emerged ticks on us at home, it was a wonderful day. I sure feel the aftermath of the experience today.
Together my husband and I found about 30 accretions …rounded rocks that might have fossils trapped inside. These rocks will be frozen and thawed and frozen and thawed until they eventually crack open. If we’re lucky we’ll have front and back views of ancient flora and fauna. We have plans for them even if the accretions turn up empty. Before we married, we dreamed about building a stone fireplace with special rocks and fossils embedded between the field stone. To that end, we’ve collected stones from all over the world — boxes full. We even have a chunk of the Berlin Wall that will be added to the rest. We’re an interesting pair, he and I. lol
I’m very happy with the ferns. I was planning on posting pictures of my fossils but this morning I find my camera’s batteries need to be replaced. Here are nice examples of what fossil hunting turned up. We have three ferns that didn’t have to be frozen and thawed. Picture them set into a stone fireplace. Who knows what the smaller nodules will give us. Maybe a Tully Monster or a jelly fish!
Anyway, it’s off my bucket list. Had that childhood dream been encouraged, I might be a paleontologist today. In retrospect, nah…I’ve far too many interests to ever have been nailed down to one. Now I have to figure out what I want to do next before I die. I’ve already done spelunking and have taken hang-gliding and repelling off the list. That was for the 20-year old me who thought she was immortal. I’ve done whitewater canoeing but not rafting, so there’s that. I also toy with the idea of running a zipline. I’d likely break something now.
I’m ready for a busy April! I’m nowhere near done with my spring cleaning. Bad weather, old dog therapy, old me aches and pains, and more bathroom repair snafus than we could have imagined made the whole process crawl. Be that as it may, the job goes on. My goal for completing indoor work is Easter week.
Coming this week ~
Tuesday I’ll be blogging full bore here with April’s the A to Z Challenge. Topics will mostly cover fascinating aspects from history with a few science wows thrown in for good measure.
Thursday begins 10 days of wild foods recipes on my satellite blog. http://calliopeswritingtablet.blogspot.com/
I’m in the home stretch for the 100 Things Blogging Challenge. For nearly 100 days, I’ve been posting from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 13 entries to come.
Here’s one for today:
Keleusmatically (adverb 1885)
imperatively; in an imperative mood
See what’s happening on the blog today
We’ll soon have a new April contest on our website. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/
Download your copy of my free 1st and 2nd chapter sampler.
Love Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories