My fossil-obsessed daughter has me thinking along relative lines. She wanders creek beds, returning with everything from pretty (but ever-so-sharp) glass, to smooth river stones, to arrowheads. But her favorites will always be the mineralized remains of plants and creatures that died an incomprehensible amount of time in the past. We live in Alabama, near an impact site millions of years old. The nearby town of Wetumpka sits in the bowl of a small meteorite crater. Bedrock juts above the ground in a series of miniature mountain ranges.

I picked up a piece of shocked quartz there, a mineral shattered internally but whole on the exterior, shot through with fragile mica. That beautiful destruction traces to the exact moment when a stone the size of a football stadium hurtled into the shallow seas and destroyed a tiny part of the world in the time of the dinosaurs.

I can almost grasp that. Almost.

But the Wetumpka crater has limited allure to Caroline. She wants fossils. Things that used to be alive. My mother and mother-in-law have yards full of the rocks she collects in Ohio. I am inundated with her Ohio-stones in Alabama.

The thing that keeps nailing me is that the things she’s hunting for, the same things I found throughout my childhood in the Ohio River Valley, were all already fossils when the dinosaurs were alive. When that stadium-stone crashed into the Earth with a force great enough to alter gravity, these rocks my daughter loves to find were already hardened mineral.  I can’t quite process the enormity of that distance in time. 

But I’m having equal difficulty managing short times. In four days – less than a week – I’ll be taking my kids to sleepaway camp. Both are ready. Neither is ready. After a year of homeschooling, I’m so ready, and my fears aren’t of the “oh my dear babies” variety but of the, “please let me not have to get them” sort. My love for them isn’t relative, but it needs some distance. A week should be plenty. Yet a week away seems an incomprehensible length of time. As far away as dinosaurs.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.

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