Last week I decided to explore an area I have never been before, a gravel pit behind a stand of cattails next to the railroad tracks. It turned out not to be a gravel pit at all, but a slag heap, probably from the days when steel was a booming local industry. Photos from the era show a steel mill with a sign in nine languages, mostly eastern European. These days only a few of the Polish are left in the neighborhood, and this huge pile of gravel the local kids use to zoom around on various motorized vehicles.
To make my excursions more interesting I like to go out with different objectives in mind. A few months ago, inspired by the moss arrangement I saw on a blog, and some links to scholar’s stones, I was looking for both moss and a scholar’s stone. I didn’t find them at the time, but on this walk I found both.
I took a few pieces for my windowsill.
The first stone called to me from the path: a large lightweight black thing that looked like a miniature shiny mountain. It’s probably anthracite or some type of coal used for burning, or maybe steel production. The second stone came several hours later, on top of the slag heap: an unusually heavy stone with various colors of rust. Probably iron ore. A few feet away I completed the collection with a heavy porous stone that is probably slag, the product left over when the ore has been heated with coal and the iron extracted.