Family Geode

This small geode was found by my nephew, Preston, in Tennessee and given to me on the spot, as we exchange many rocks when we go on hikes. We love exploring the mountains and forests of many area and have found rocks are a way to experiencing each other and adventure more deeply. It also is a symbol of both our love for each other and our love of nature. Of course, as a former Park Ranger we never take stones from protected areas, and certainly keep all movement off natural lands to a minimum.

— hand delivered in New York City via Tennessee

Exchange Story

I was really, really hoping someone would donate a rock to the Object Ethnography Project because I have an international rock collection. I either collect the rocks myself or ask people to collect rocks for me from their travels. Then I label the rocks and chart them on a map of the world.

This rock and story are particularly valuable to me because it was donated by my godfather, and, by extension, a god-nephew I’ve never met but is part of my extended family. I didn’t know he would be donating this. This serendipity is more that I could have hoped for in an exchange. A family geode!

My godfather’s donation story makes me think more deeply about my rock collection. It never occurred to me how my collection connected me and invested me in my friends and the sties where I collect rocks. I always ask people to bring me a rick that best exemplifies the place they take it from. I have a rock gathered from just below a submerged, undetonated bomb from the Puerto Rican island of Vieque. I have shards of porcelain pulled from English streams. I have a piece of the Berlin Wall, before it came down. And now I have a family geode.

I feel like the Object Ethnography Project is a sort of “site,” and the geode is the rock that best characterizes it.

xo M.

Geode in its new habitat on the shelf with other International Rocks awaiting it's turn on the map.



  1. Marilyn Bell says:

    My father, who grew up in western Tennessee, had some stories about stones which would explode it place in fire. They look like the one pictured here. Much like a geode but instead of crystals inside it is filled with fine grained “sand” ranging in color from browns to ochre to almost brick red. I have seen these stones ranging from perhaps 1″ diameter to softball size. I am trying to find our what they are called.

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