What I Want for Christmas: A Bag of Rocks


bag-o-rocks | Steve White

All I want for Christmas is a bag of rocks!

As a kid, so much of the fun of Christmas was the anticipation leading up to it, especially making a list for Santa and hoping to avoid the dreaded bag of rocks. Now that I have a few Christmases behind me, I get a similar enjoyment watching my kids go through the same thing, and love seeing what’s important to them. For my own list this year, you could say that it has changed 180 degrees.

This year I had the chance to attend my first dam removal. It wasn’t the dramatic exploding kind with lots of dynamite, but rather a mid-sized dam in NC where the US Fish and Wildlife team used an excavator to rip it down, chunk by chunk. The two most exciting parts were (a) seeing the water pour through the new opening as it started to change from an impoundment back into a river and (b) a little later watching leaves on the surface moving in the newly formed current through what just a few hours before was basically a stagnant pond. For those of us who love nature for nature’s sake, it’s a beautiful change to witness.

There’s a tradition among American Rivers’ river protection team that when they take a dam out, they keep a few of the concrete chunks as a trophy of the accomplishment. Some of the staff members have shelves full of rocks they’ve collected from many, many dam removals, which is great to see.

So as I think about what I’d like for Christmas this year, high on the list is what I used to dread: a bag of rocks. If we have chunks of concrete on our shelves, then that means that the concrete is no longer blocking a river, and the river is flowing freely again. I’ll take that, any day…not just for Christmas.