As you may have surmised from a previous post, I am funny about rocks. Particularly Barbadian rocks. Ants too, but that’s another story.
My island is a rock. It sits on the spine of an evolved accretionary prism termed the “Barbados Ridge”, and is almost totally sedimentary.
I got hooked on rocks as a child when I saw and tried a gutterperk. I have never seen the word spelled so I am using my best phonetics. A gutterperk is a small hand-held toy weapon, well more of a weapon than a toy, based on the mediaeval catapults like mangonel and trebuchet.
By some definition, a gutterperk is a Barbadian word for slingshot. Barbadians hardly ever say slingshot. It is gutterperk, or at times catapult. I prefer gutterperk. It connotes to me the barbarity and effectiveness of the weapon in skilled hands. I would be more afraid of an old-time Bajan with a gutterperk than some lad with a gun.
I had seen rocks and stones lying around and watched as foundations were laid with larger ones, but not until the gutterperk days of my youth did I become a rock studier. Oh yeah, I have eaten a few as a child and was very amused when I noticed recently that my puppy likes them too.
Gutterperks and rock-stones went hand in hand. You could take out an eye (happened to a kid in our neighbourhood) or even knock yourself out if you were not skilled and/or it was not properly made. All gutterperks were personal and home crafted to suit the wielder. The main thing for me though, you had to know your rock-stones.
Rocks in Barbados are mainly reef and coral formed (limestone), sandstone or what scientists call oceanic. My study of rocks however was not based on geology, but on warfare.
What was the best weight, which had the better ridges, and which could I effectively use in my gutterperk? Thankfully I killed no one, not even a bird – a favourite target after humans and fruit. Oh yes, it took a mean skill to fall a mango or golden apple from a tree with a gutterperk.
I grew up and put away childish warmongering, but my delight in getting to know rocks remained.
I no longer have a desire to eat them. I still get pleasure, though, from observing and handling them, and studying their shapes and forms. Now I also love to take photos of them.