In the woods on the ridgeline
St. Albans, WV
There were about four acres of woods that separated the back of our house from a neighboring subdivision. In the center of these woods is a ridgeline, a high point where you can see for miles. The rocks and fallen trees made an excellent playground for an eight-year-old in 1972.
I don’t remember the details about how I found the fossil, but I remember tearing through the woods downhill at breakneck speed to show Grandmother.
The Funk & Wagnall’s encyclopedia at home wasn’t enough to answer my questions. I begged to be driven to the library. Books and librarians became my best friends and from this research, my life’s path became clear: I would become a paleontologist. Or a geologist. Could I be both?
So maybe not so clear.
And did I become either? Well, no.
What I became, though, was an intensely curious person.
The moment I found the fern fossil was the moment I had an internal shift. It’s the first conscious memory I have that a world, other than my own, existed.