Tuesday, September 9, 2008

International Rock-Flipping Day

It is not every day when someone invites you to go outside and 'flip a rock'.

So when I found a link to the International Rock-Flipping Day event . . .well, boy was I excited..!! Who does not want an excuse to go out and flip rocks over..?? The very idea just exudes 'BIG FUN'..!!

Hosted since 2007 (yes,it has a long and storied history...) by Via Negativa it has caught fire like only a . . .well, like a rock might..?? (Note to self: work on that metaphor.)

I actually discovered this event, scheduled for the first Sunday in September, late in the afternoon of the very day. To say I was a bit unprepared to 'flip a rock' would be an understatement.

I searched my urban yard for a suitable rock ...and searched ...and searched. Finally I gave up and decided a split log that had fallen from the neighbor's wood pile would have to suffice. I hope the rock-flipping gods might show a bit of mercy to this 'flipping newbie'.

At the right is a picture of my 'rock' (be quiet..!!) in situ. That means like where it was. I learned that from KatDoc at her flipping post. She obviously knows her Latin phrases.

When I flipped my 'rock' over . . .well lets just say I was neither shocked nor overwhelmed with biological diversity. Certainly nothing like others have found under their rocks.

Uhmm... most of what I saw when I 'flipped my rock' was like . . .dirt. Man, an urban lawn can certainly be a seemingly sterile place, especially under a *cough* rock.

But on closer examination, I found several earthworms and at least one of these little centipede or millipede bugs that we commonly find here in Central Iowa. I have no idea what they are or what they are called.

Of course, when the 'rock' was first flipped over, the ubiquitous pill bugs all scurried for cover. There are a larger and smaller examples in this picture of my *cough* rock's bottom surface.

I remember when the kids were younger they had to do a 'pill bug' project for their grade-school science project. I think we made them keep it outside.

The Bottom Line:

So what is the point of this holiday..?? What did I learn from participating..?? Will I do it again next year..??

Well, I never did find a good summary of why we all would want to do this, other than to recognize that there is whole hidden world hidden underneath our feet. Creatures small and smaller all use the coolness and moisture and protection found under a rock to live at least a portion of their lives.

Who among us does not welcome a warm, inviting, and protective place to relax our guard and just be ourselves..?? I think we can understand why many creatures find the same type of place so inviting.

I learned that my yard has very few large rocks in it. Lots of 'river rock' but most of them seemed not at all conducive for sheltering the smaller creatures around us. Perhaps next year I will plan ahead and find that perfect rock that might mirror Charlie Brown's 'Great Pumpkin' in my imagination.

Will I do it again next year..?? Oh my gosh yes, I mean how exciting is flipping a rock..?!? Wait, do not answer that.

To Learn More:

IRFD group on Flickr
IRFD gallery on Via Negativa

2008 participants links found here



Larry said...

Hi, Tom! Thanks for stopping by my blog. One of the things I like about such contrived 'net events as the Rock-Flipping Day is the social nature; you get to meet some new people with similar interests whom you would probably never have met otherwise.

It's sorta like being invited to a really good party...

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad you flipped a log... I thought about asking the "rock flipping gods" if it would be all right, since where I work has a plethora of logs and a dearth of rocks...

KatDoc said...

Hi! Nice flip, and thanks for the link to my blog.

Here's what I think about flipping a log instead of a rock: If you wait like a million years or so, your log will have become petrified wood or maybe bituminous coal, so you aren't really breaking the rules, you are just flipping a bit early.

Next year, try pre-placing a rock a week or so before the event. I was going to do that but forgot. I don't think that is illegal! Or else, scope out a rocky place in advance.


Joan said...

What a funny narrative! I'm still hooting with laughter and in addition I am so relieved to see another flippin' cheater. (grin) Urban dwellers are under great stress during Rock Flipping Day. Although this year I lucked out with the roachie looking beetle, last year I flipped a brick. At least, as Katdog says you did the right thing but just a little bit early. I prefer to think of last year's brick as a compressed conglomerate.

Anonymous said...

Hey, we have the same bug under our "rocks"! What a great experiment and so much fun. Nice to meet new nature lovers like myself! :)