Rocks, Blood and High Heels

I don’t remember how we got there or where we were going, but while we discussed rock picking, my sister brought up the extensive family history and the fact it was difficult to track the Gypsy ancestry. “Because incomplete records haunt me so,” was not only her follow up, but a perfect example of my family’s sick ability to throw movie quotes into just about any conversation. That was pretty much the extent of the Gypsy talk—a comment of fact in the middle of a much larger conversation—and then we were off on other things (it may have been gun control or home improvements, because our discussions are about as eclectic as our bloodline).

Eclectic, that’s such a nice way to say it. Another would be mutt. Still another, and the one we use most often, is Heinz 57. While it’s only a handful of nationalities, it’s a strange mix (the Gypsy married a French-Scotch, the American Indian married the German, neither of whom were pure-blood and muddies the water further). We ARE the melting pot.  But for whatever reason, each of us siblings tends to not only look like but also be more drawn to one heritage hotspot or another. Me? Once my aunt started pointing out how many Gypsy tendencies I have and compared me to my full-blood Rom grandmother, I’ve been kinda stuck there.  (And yes, I know the term gypsy is derogatory to some, but I am one, so I can use it. Shhh…)

But I digress. Apparently, my son was in the room, heard the Gypsy comment, and filed it away for later. And by later I mean, when I decided on an impromptu pitstop at Wisconsin Point on the way home.

See, the bathroom door in the new house tends to swing shut. I hate that. And I was thinking about the odd little raccoon thing we have at the cabin that sits in front of the door to hold it open. I didn’t know where to get one, or what it was even called (because if they sell it, you know it has a formal name), so I thought, “Hey! How about a cool rock from the beach?”  The kids shrugged and said okay, and we made a left turn instead of hitting the highway.

Once to the beach we remembered why we don’t do the sand and surf this time of year around here, it’s COLD. Lake Superior never actually gets warm. The air gets warm enough that the frigid waters of summer time are welcome, but they’re never warm. Today it was cold enough for there to be ice at the edges. Ice. But we were on a mission and headed for the lighthouse and the larger stones there. The girl child laughed and pointed out our footwear for the beach. In my new attempt at dressing like a girl, I had my chunky boots on and she had her high-heeled sandals on (which, by the way, are very ugly but cool—they look like an old suitcase with all the travel stickers on them).  Heels wasn’t a problem for me. I grew up on that beach. I knew those rocks and crags and where the sand was soft or hard. She didn’t. She chose to take her shoes off and freeze her toes in the name of the perfect rock. When we got to the lighthouse boulders, she stopped and decided to stay on the beach. The boy and I trudged on.

“Oh, look at this one!”

“WOAH! Mom, check this one out!”

“MOM! Look…”

That last comment came as he spit a small rock from his mouth.  We’re rock pickers. I come from rock pickers, I gave birth to rock pickers, and as all rock pickers know, rocks are often prettier when wet. I just never realized how funny it was that we will pop a rock in our mouths to get it wet and look at it, until he did just that.

We finally found the perfect rock. Slightly bigger than a grown man’s fist and full of colors and striations that didn’t require spit to sparkle.  I declared the search over, but the boy child looked sad. When I asked him what was wrong, he answered, “But I like all these other rocks. Can I keep them?” And after a pause that I’m not entirely sure wasn’t planned for dramatic impact, “I AM a gypsy you know… I can have rocks.”

I laughed so hard my eyes watered, and a bunch of seagulls screeched as they flew away at the sudden outburst. When we caught up to the girl child, who declared her hatred for all things cold and wintery and announced her toes would never thaw, she saw the bounty of rocks her brother had, jutted a hip and raised an eyebrow.

“We’ll come back next spring when it’s warm,” I promised. “And we can pick rocks all day without freezing.”

“We’ll need buckets!” The boy smiled wide enough I could see his new twelve-year molars.

“You guys can do that. I’ll think I’ll bring a beach towel.” She held her hand out for the car keys. I was about to be sad at the thought that I had lost a rock picker, but she grinned and added, “I get why you love water so much. I could sit here and listen to it hitting the rocks all day.”

I explained how I grew up practically living on that point and she decided it explained several of my quirks, habits and loves. She showed me the picture she had taken of the lighthouse rocks and lake foam between them and then we piled in, went back to the highway and headed home. There was a brief conversation about Gypsy beliefs and history. At one point the boy rationalized that because they were mistakenly believed to come from Egypt, that was obviously why he loved Egyptian stuff so much. 12-year-old logic is strange, but in a cute way. As the teenage daughter can only drive so long without music, we soon ended the discussion and turned to the radio.

Upon arriving at home, the girl kicked off her shoes, upset that there was still sand in them and the boy hit the book shelf. After a few moments, he snagged one of several books I have on Gypsy Lore and got cozy on the couch. Apparently, he’s decided which spice in the Heinz 57 works for him.

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