The Junie-Moz Memorial Agate

We just got back from our annual trip to Lincoln City, Oregon. We’ve been making this trip pretty much every year since our honeymoon in 1984. I wrote about what this annual vacation has meant to us in a previous blog.

This year’s trip was the first trip we’ve made to Lincoln City since Mom passed at the end of February, and she was often in my thoughts. Two or three times during the day I’d find myself thinking, “I should call Moz and tell her about this!” And then I’d remember I can’t do that anymore.

One of the things my husband and I do on our trips to Lincoln City is look for agates. It was my beloved Aunt Junie, who’d lived for years on the Oregon coast, who first introduced me to the joys of agate-hunting. She’d shown me how to face towards the sun and follow the rock beds, scanning for those pebbles that glow in the sunlight. Those of you who are agate-hunters know the thrill that comes when you see an agate glowing up at you from the beach – that moment when you see the blue or gold or red of an agate peeking out from behind its fellow pebbles and beckoning to you. It’s like being on a treasure hunt.

After years of agate-hunting my husband and I have come to know the most likely rock beds to find agates in – we look for strands of rocks that are about the size of a fifty-cent piece. There are rarely agates that are much bigger than that, and often my eyes just skim over the too-big ones.

But on our first full day in Lincoln City, my eyes caught a glimmer of tell-tale blue in a big old fist-sized rock at the edge of a rock bed. I almost walked right past it – but that blue glow made me stop. I heard myself asking, “Are you kidding me?!” I hefted up the rock – this was no “pebble” – and realized that, although it was encased in a layer of sandstone, inside the sandstone was the biggest chunk of agate I’d ever found on an ocean beach.

We were at the beginning of a six-mile walk when I found this agate, but there was no way I wasn’t going to bring it with me. So, periodically shifting its weight from my right hand to my left, I forged on. After a couple miles my husband took over the burden of The Rock for a bit. Then it was my turn again. Then his. At one point he asked, “What are we going to do with this thing?”

I thought about his question for a moment, and then I told him, “It feels like Moz and Aunt Junie were in cahoots on this one. Like they led me to this big ol’ agate – and knew I couldn’t walk past it without picking it up. I can imagine them chuckling about this one. I think we’ll get it polished and call it The Junie-Moz Memorial Agate.”


The Treasures Under Our Feet…

If you go to the URL above, you’ll see pictures of grains of sand magnified to 250 times their actual size. And I’m pretty sure these pictures will bring a smile of delight to your face, as they did to mine.

I am a rock aficionado. I can’t pinpoint when, exactly, I became a rockaholic – maybe I was born this way (my dad is, after all, a geologist); or maybe it began when my fourth grade teacher loaded us all up on a bus and took us on a field trip to a place where we could dig up agates the size of duck eggs; or maybe it was my beloved Aunt Junie who lived on the Oregon coast and trained me how to spot agates on the beach from 15 feet away – but from as far back as I can remember, rocks have held a special attraction for me.

When I became a teacher, it became a Christmas tradition for me to call my students up one by one and let them choose a rock from a bowl of rocks I’d found on the Oregon coast. They’d stand in front of their classmates, holding their chosen rock, while I told them all the things I loved about them. Then I’d let them know that the rocks they were holding were “magic rocks” – and that every time they looked at their rocks the rocks would remind them of how much I loved them.  Today, when I run into former students, often the first thing they’ll tell me is that they still have their “magic rocks.”  That always puts a grin on my face.

Rocks as big as skyscrapers that provide me with perfect handholds and footholds on rock-climbing adventures; flat, smooth-surfaced rocks perfect for skipping; boulders with great textures and patterns; and agates for my “magic rock” bowl – I appreciate the beauty of them all.

But before I saw the magnified pictures of the sand grains, I’d never really appreciated the beauty of these tiniest of rocks.  My feet have probably tread over billions – maybe zillions! – of sand grains in my life – over-looking them as I looked for agates or skipping stones – never really seeing the smaller treasures that were right in front of my eyes.  It boggles the mind.

And it makes me wonder what other treasures I’ve missed that were right in front of my eyes.


To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.

— William Blake

(All photos below by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)