IT’S THE SMELL OF THE rocks. It’s knowing what everything on the surface is sitting on. It’s the finding of hand-samples. (It’s also the finding of fossils.) It’s the divisions of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. It’s the appreciation of Deep Time. It’s the walking-about in nature. It’s that every rocky layer is a page in a vast book. It’s the feel of obsidian and chert and soapstone. It’s knowing the Mohs scale. It’s using the Mohs scale. It’s that the raw ingredients are made out of stardust. It’s literally seeing the connection-to-everything-else. It’s pretending to be one of Tolkien‘s dwarves. It’s understanding the millions (sometimes billions) of years that went into making what I can now touch with hand or sole. It’s imagining how these raw ingredients provided the impetus for life (including sentience). It’s hearing my geology teacher at SRJC (what was his name?) talk about “walking around the backcountry and flagellating all over the rocks.” It’s watching the formation of pillow lava. It’s knowing the difference between aa and pahoehoe. It’s the ability to see the long story behind whatever scenery I’m currently driving through/flying over. It’s pondering the meteorites’ slow journey to cousin Earth. And it’s the growing collection of earth-bones on my favorite bookcase.