Cauldron

I like books.

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I live in a small town and enjoy writing about the inhabitants. I spend most of my time perusing through used book stores looking for that one great book that I don't have; consequently, I have rooms filled with books. I am a book addict.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Not just a drive, but a mission

Mr. Zelda and I took the new car out for a drive. We drove through the mountains over to Harrison. I wanted to look for cretaceous fossils. They are abundant in the White River, but since I am not physically able to hike down to the river and wade in the shallow water and dig for them, I find the rock shops, which are everywhere. At the shop where we stopped, a woman had just brought a truck full of rocks, and everyone was a cretaceous fossil. I got four really good rocks filled with mollusks and crinoids, and I think one of those is a pink coral type rock with three different shells. I am going to research it today. It is awesome, plus I got some white rose or selenite from Arizona and a piece of black and white marble that I bought just because they were both pretty. My husband and I are going to go back and comb the White River, we found a really simple place with easy access and the water is very shallow. So, I am going back to get one from the river just so I can point to it and say that I got it myself. Kind of like the crystals. We go to Hot Springs to the mines and I am unable to go inside but this year, I am going in and I am going to mine my own crystal. Besides the mines are beautiful. I almost forgot, we also got a lily pad shale from the coal mines in Pennsylvania. The woman, who ran the rock shop, bought about ten from a rock hound who came down to buy up crystal.

While on our drive, we saw a big fat beaver sitting on the side of the road. At first I thought he was a raccoon until I slowed down and got a really good look and yep, big fat beaver. Mr. Zelda, knowing how much I love animals, says let’s stop and I’ll make me a new hat. Of course he was teasing. The eagles must already have taken off to warmer cliffs because I searched and searched and didn’t see a single one. I did, however, see a lot of hawks.

We stopped at a little country store and some men, who had been deer hunting, told about seeing a herd of elk. That’s nice, since they were all killed out and have only recently been put back into our forests. I just hope the hunters leave them alone.

One of the really disheartening sights are all the Tyson chicken and turkey houses that dot the hill's landscape. Not only are those poor animals being raised unable to move, but also the waste has to be contaminating the rivers and streams that are so abundant in the mountains. I wanted to run and open the doors and release the poor birds.

Nevertheless, the trip was wonderful, the trees are all turning and it was a beautiful drive. My husband is from Florida so he is in awe every time the seasons change plus he has never lived around mountains so this is really something. Every time we go into the rural areas he warns, “Don’t go down that dirt road.” Hell, Arkansas is almost all dirt roads.

6 Comments:

Blogger biosparite said...

Zelda1,
So you like paleontology as well as Larry McMurtry? I do my research on paleontology on the Internet and at Rice University, where McMurtry was a graduate student and later a faculty member for awhile. I have a favorite Lower Creataceous locality in Austin at Loop 360 just north of Bee Cave Road, where the Bee Cave Marl sheds small echinoids, many molluscs, and uncountable numbers of microfossils (the latter for those who have sieve screens and stereoscopic dissecting microscopes). My favorite collecting, though, is around Strasburg, VA in the Shenandoah Valley, where Upper Ordovician limestones yield silicified trilobite sclerites down to the smallest immature stages upon being dissolved in hydrochloric acid.

7:58 AM  
Blogger zelda1 said...

My favorite places are in the old mines right here in Arkansas and in the throw away shale that the coal miners dumped. I have found mostly plant but many many smaller life form fossils. I also will be visiting the White River for more of the ones I just bought. When I lived in California, my favorite site was Shark Tooth Mountain. Man oh man were there some beautiful and large petrified shark teeth. This summer, my husband I are going to the petrified forrests. My friend has a mine near and she mines for turqois but she also gets tons of petrified wood and rose rock. She told me she recently unearthed a huge rock with shells and plants all over it. I am anxious to go take a look. I am partial to the fossils but am nuts over any rock or mineral.

8:40 AM  
Blogger biosparite said...

You were collecting from roof shales in Arkansas. Were you in the Pennsylvanian period with lots of ferns?
Is Shark Tooth Mountain near Bakersfield? I know a paleontologist at the University of Florida who caught a bad case of Valley fever out there.
The fossils appeal to me since I spent much time as a small child on Clearwater Beach off Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico. Many interesting shells and other examples of marine life washed up there.

9:21 AM  
Blogger zelda1 said...

Shark tooth mountain is near Bakersfield, and I went there the summer after I moved to Bakersfield. A few months after I visited the mountain, I became sick and after a few doctor's visits they found I had cocciomycosis which is the medical term for Valley Fever. I almost lost a kidney due to that disease. For about a year, I was under stricked care and recieved weekly doses of Amphotericin IV. It was a bitch. I loved the shark teeth though and would go back tomorrow if I lived there.
This is such a coincidence, my husband collected prehistoric shark teeth along the Clearwater beaches. We go back to Tampa every year or so, that's where he was raised and his children still live there, and we go looking for fossilized teeth, bones, and shells. I developed a love of fossils when I was 6 or 7 and played in the coal mines and found all those wonderful ferns and plants and some shells in the rocks that were dumped. Once I found a pecan that was petrified and inside a huge rock. I worked for days chipping away until I broke that section off and took it to school for show and tell. I ended up giving it to my fifth grade teacher to put on display in her rock collection for the students. I also began going in caves around that age and being inside those caves and seeing all the beauty just reinforced my love for the hidden history of the world. McMurtry, rocks, fossils, and the beaches of Tampa, my gosh we have a lot in common.

5:48 AM  
Blogger biosparite said...

Clearwater was ideal in the mid-1950s for turning a small child loose. It was safe, the water was lake-like, and the beaches were strewn with shells. My father would put me in a life jacket and let me bob in 5.5 feet of water or so while he pulled up starfish and sand dollars. At the beginning of one beach stay he removed the arms from several starfish. He found one to show mw several days later that was already regenerating its arm. So at age 5 I already understood regeneration in starfish and had visual familiarity with crabs, fish, shells, and live coquina clams digging themselves in the small wavelets that broke at the water's edge. i collecting some in a jar of seawater and watched them extend their siphons. What a blast that was.

10:56 AM  
Blogger zelda1 said...

Mr. Zelda, lived in Miami during his early years, and his grandfather took him fishing and crabbing. He has wonderful stories of learning about the ocean. My exposure to the ocean consisted of summers spent at Galveston. What I learned most is never take a box full of seashells for a ride in the back of the car. If they don't get out of the box and bite your feet, they will start to die and smell really, really bad. I also learned that those jelly fish sting and those sharp things in the water are crabs and some of them sting. I saw a hammerhead shark and once saw a man with half an arm and he told me a huge shark bit him. After that, I stayed out of the water. However, I lived on Mission Beach in San Diego and taught my children as much about the ocean as I knew and learned in the five years we lived there. We were up early every morning looking for shells and rocks. The beach was beautiful but again, it was dangerous. While I love the beaches and the shells and rocks, I love the mountains more and that is where I am comfortable. I do enjoy our visits to Florida and look forward to them but I'm always happy to return. We are suppose to fly down in November and be with his daughter through the birth of our grandchild. I am excited and am sure I will be ready for some warm weather. In answer to the question you ask, most of the fossils that I found in the coal mines were ferns but there were some shells and small insects in some too. On the freeway on the way up here, they blasted through the mountain and there are several areas where the rock underneath the top of the mountain is coal, and I am going to go there and pick through the surrounding shale and hope to find a few treasures. In the meantime, I am eyeing a small creek bed that is old and has dried up some and there are rocks everywhere that I'm sure have some good finds in them. Maybe I'll take the grandchildren out tomorrow to rock hunt.

8:44 PM  

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