J.C. Mattingly: A Socratic Rancher 6-25-12 | TheFencePost.com

J.C. Mattingly: A Socratic Rancher 6-25-12

J.C. Mattingly
Moffat, Colo.

A week or so after Don buried one of his Two Dogs, a few of us started to wonder if he might name The Other Dog.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about geology,” Don said.

Don had told me a couple of times that when he thought he had personal troubles, he thought about geology.

“That bad, is it?” I asked.

“Heard the other day,” Don began, sitting down on the shop anvil, “that the earth was once covered completely in ice, and then some volcanos went off, melted it down, and made the oceans. The lava made the land into rocks.”

“Rocks are interesting, especially when they aren’t in the field,” I said with a smile.

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“You take a rock,” Don said, failing to acknowledge my remark, “that rock is smarter than you think. I heard they just made rocks the most primitive form of life.”

“Rocks?”

“Yessir. Rocks. There’s a system that started with this feller Linnaeus, that organizes the world into Kingdoms. Up until lately, there were Seven Kingdoms: animals, plants, bacterias, protozoon, funguses, and a couple others I never heard of, but anyway, I read about a scientist who showed how rocks are the Eighth Kingdom.”

“There’s plenty of them,” I noted.

“When you look at a rock perched on a hill, or a rock lying peacefully in a streambed, or a rock in the field, you have to realize that rock has a plan. That rock’s plan is to get to water and be broken down into small pieces that get eaten by animals or plants.”

“So you’re saying that rocks think?”

“They organize. See, a rock is the basis of all life. When the universe was made, however it was made, the first thing that was made was rocks. Rocks were the first things to get organized. We all know that we’re stardust, which, when you think about it, stardust is what? Stardust is rocks, which is why rocks are always working their way to water where they break down and become a part of actual life. Of course, it takes millions of years.”

“At least.”

“There you go. A rock has patience. Take your typical rock: you kick it, you chip it with a pick, you throw it. All these things help rocks. Rocks like to be kicked down the road because all roads lead to water, sooner or later.”

“But how do rocks know this?”

“Rocks keep secrets better than any of the other kingdoms.”

“Don, have you been wandering on the internet again?”

“Surfing is what it’s called.”

“If you’ve been surfing, Don, try not to wipe out and hit your head. On a rock.”

“Noted.”