Several weeks ago, my late husband David’s cousin called to say that she found a box in their garage labeled “bowl of rocks…. Butterworth.” She had been in the process of moving some things out of the garage when she stumbled upon this treasure. She laughed as she asked me, “Do you think your son Andy would want these?” I replied with excitement, “Of course he would like them, he loves rocks!” I explained to her that David’s Aunts, known in our family as the “Weaver Aunts” because they were his mother Maud Weaver Butterworth’s sisters, had given him several bowls of stones from around the world already. Getting this call long after they had passed away was most unexpected.
Andy’s interests in rocks began when he was a toddler. Whenever we visited the three Aunts’ home, a home that was far more formal than our own, Andy would make his way to a beautiful mahogany book case with glass doors that were always locked. He would persuade one of them to get the tiny key and unlock the case so that he could begin his examination of its contents. As Andy pulled out the rocks one by one, the stories of faraway travels attached to each one would follow. The rocks taught Andy about places like Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Russia, Norway, England, Scotland, and Canada.
Our journeys in life are meant to be shared through the stories and collections that we pass along to one another. As a young mother with very inquisitive boys, I marveled at how a collection of rocks could capture their attention for such great lengths of time. I also appreciated the fact that the Aunts allowed the boys to examine the many valuables scattered throughout their home which was a lot like a museum. Those rocks shaped Andy’s love of geography, travel, environmental science, geology, national parks, and climbing…rocks!
When I received the box and opened it, I found a paper adhered to the bottom of one of the rocks in the bowl that said, “Bering Sea, July 1975.” I recalled seeing this rock some 25 years ago in Andy’s tiny hand as we sat listening to the Aunts tell us about their visit to Alaska. We watched with great interest their slideshow of Alaska not long after that. I wonder what would have happened if Andy had not been so interested in the contents encased in the Mahogany cabinet with glass doors. I am so grateful for the lessons he received from opening those doors. The development of Andy’s passion for the great outdoors was an amazing outcome of those visits. He now works in the natural world nearly every day as a field guide in Utah surrounded by some much larger rocks! The old rock collection that we inherited, while small, is wonderful, and the Rocky Mountain collection he works with today is vast but no more valuable than that “bowl of rocks…Butterworth”.