In my living room, above my fireplace, hangs a fossil installation of Orthoceras. It is a genus of an extinct nautiloid cephalopod from the Ordovician to Triassic ages and is 500 to 190 million years old. My mind can’t even take in that amount of time. But I’ll leave my musings on the brevity of life for another post, and tell you how I came by that unusual ornamentation.
My mom was a life long naturalist–as a matter of fact she met my father in a Natural History club in Cincinnati, Ohio. She loved every rock, fossil and shell she could get her hands on. She used to take the trolley to the Cincinnati Natural History Museum where she hung out with the museum director, Mr. Ralph Drury who she always called “Doc Drury”. She even started her own Midget Museum.
Fast forward to when she was all grown up with four children. She still loved collecting rocks and fossils, and we went on many collecting trips with her. Another thing that we always did together was to go to the DuPage County Fairgrounds every Memorial Day weekend where the ESCONI (Earth Science Club of Northren Illinois) held it’s display of absolutely breathtaking gems, minerals, fossils and jewelry. Later, when I had my two children, we continued the tradition of going every year.
I finished college after my children were born. It was an uphill battle and I appreciated all the help I got from my family to finish. When I graduated my mom gave me as unusual and as unconventional a present as she was herself: a big collection of Orthoceras.
I love the sense of motion captured in these extinct ocean dwelling cephlopods. She said it reminded her of me: “An uphill swimmer.”