Maria Stuart

Maria Stuart
Howell, Michigan, USA
February 17
Maria Stuart is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer. She lives in Michigan with her husband, their teenage son, and Ted, the hyper labradoodle who keeps her from sitting at the computer too long. You can check out her website at or Follow @mariastuart on Twitter.


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NOVEMBER 15, 2010 8:13AM

Like holding a tiny universe in your hand

Rate: 28 Flag

geode photoWe’ve had a mystery rock in our house since my 11-year-old spent a week at my sister’s place Up North in Michigan

It’s not a rock, really, but a geode, an outer shell that’s hiding crystals and mineral formations inside.

The word “geode” comes from a Greek word meaning “earth-shaped.” While a geode looks pretty much like a rock, it doesn’t feel very rock-like when you hold it. The geode feels lighter than what you’d expect for its size, and its surface is much softer to the touch than that of a typical rock.

The geode was a gift to Will from my sister’s Up-North neighbor, Alice.

“Only God’s seen inside this,” Alice told Will when she handed him the geode. “When you open it, be sure to send me a picture of what’s inside.”

Since then the geode’s lived in our house, waiting to be cracked open like an egg with a mystery inside instead of a yolk.

We didn’t want to take a sledge hammer to the geode, fearing we’d ruin the treasure inside. Will checked with the local jeweler to see if he had access to tools that could cut the stone open; he didn’t, but directed Will to a store in Ann Arbor in the hopes that someone there might be able to saw it open, but that didn’t pan out.

Then, Will had a brainstorm.

“Why don’t we check at Brighton Stone,” he asked.

Why didn’t I think of that? Brighton Stone is a local business that specializes in all sorts of stone, for indoor or outdoor use, and has all the equipment it needs to do all manner of stonework.

photo_4It took one of the employees just a minute or two to slice through the geode with a wet saw. We stood off to the side and watched as the noisy saw did its work.

When the geode was finally cut in two, the man held it out for us to see.

photo_3It was amazing, really, to finally see what’s been hiding inside the geode for who knows how many years. The geode’s hollow center was filled with short, stubby, grape-like formations that took maybe thousands of years to form.

It’s just a bit awe-inspiring to stand witness to the power of the universe illustrated in such a small way. With the geode, it’s kind of like a pearl taking shape inside an oyster. The outer shell of the geode forms, trapping mineral-rich water inside. Temperature, pressure and the minerals in the water combine forces to create a natural masterpiece every bit as individual  as every single human being on earth.


Looking inside the geode was what I imagined it might be like to see the center of the universe, like holding a tiny solar system in my hand.


Somehow, I felt instantly lucky at being among the first to see the secrets the geode nurtured for so long as it waited for the perfect, kindly woman to pass it on to an inquisitive young boy who’d figure out how to safely crack it open and reveal the secret inside.

“This is just so cool,” Will said as he held the geode. “But I’ve got to wash my hands. If this thing’s as old as I think it is, it’s got a lot of dirt and germs on it.”






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You just spread the intergalactic super nova viral phenom to earth.
We will all be zombies now? Oh, wait, we are zombies.

Really, this was a fun read and pics.

stop the advance of the 451s
I've had a geode since I was a kid, too. It's almost the size of a bowling ball. I assume it's a geode anyway. It's in storage somewhere. Someday maybe I'll open it. But I'd so hate to be disappointed. We always just called it a dinosaur egg.
Sometimes, it's all about finding beauty and inspiration instead of seeking it, isn't it? Great post.
Any time you want to hold the universe, just hug that adorable boy.
I've loved geodes since I was a kid -- when my sister and I went geode and fossil hunting at Coal City, IL. Great post and pics!
What a wonderful post and a fascinating discovery. Makes me think of my favorite lines from Blake:
"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."
... and Will is cool too and very creative! Thanks, Maria!
Seeing the inside of your geode made me think of something else that is not so beautiful but now I see it in a different way. It is too private to discuss here, but wow . . . thanks.
Great post! I loved it.
Best Wishes,
Coming from the mother of 3 rock-obsessed children, I think you captured the magic and mysterious attraction of geology just right. Love the thought of being the first to peer inside a geo - a great gift from nature to you and Will.
Great gift for a science-interested little boy. And I love his comment at the end!
I know what you mean. Isn't it wonderful, when writing is the geode, and we see something so familiar, made new? revealed, after steady, lifelong development?

As you do here. Cool beans. Er, grape things.
Wow! Loved reading this, seeing what you saw and the great photos--thanks.
That is indeed "cool" Will. What a fun experience for you all.
I loved my geode when I was kid. I had a whole collection of rocks...shells and other treasures. Not surprisingly, my geode was my most prized addition to my collection. Thanks for your story...and letting me remember my initial fascination with these rather amazing rocks!
made me smile, thanks for such an uplifting post
I've heard that this is how the zombies got started. Watch him carefully.
Smart kid...At his age I would of been out in the garage with my mother's electric carving knife.

Eat your heart out physicists everywhere, Maria Stuart wrote it up first.
Seriously, hollow earth theories are ridiculous, but a geode-centric universe model answers a lot of questions!
It would explain for instance the current quandary physics finds itself in regarding the universes known outward expansion, when all of the mathematical models heretofore point to a contracting one.
It would also explain the missing dark matter, if for instance the universe bubble that we find ourselves in was something like a cavity in a geode.
Maybe in an eternity the big bang has ignited kazillions of times only to deteriorate; winding not down but outward, drawn by the mass of burned out star stuff dark matter plastered like barnacles to the inner walls of the cavity.
Exactly like holding a tiny universe in your hand.
After all "A young child shall lead them."
So cool! The ones with amethyst inside are sold by the hundreds in Ajanta Ellora Caves . they are pretty amazing as is your's.
Just now read the bio, and realized that Maria is older than her portrait.
Her title and choice of subject taken together still encapsulate the physics part perfectly.
Geodes are proof that there's beauty in all kinds of hidden places.
Thanks for sharing your geode. They certainly are great and like a mini universe.
Hooray for geodes and space secrets and curious boys and kindly friends and moms who write about all of it. Thanks for such a fun and happy read today, Maria.