Pictured here is the very inviting forest path that leads to my little honey hole out behind my home. I have to say that this spot has treated me very well this year. Just as I think I've picked it clean and there are no new things to be seen, I get a surprise. No surprises this time, though.
Having spent four years coming back to this place, each year has presented something new. But it is perhaps in this last year that my finds from there have really been great. Back in 2013, I was shocked to find some Eldredgeops rana, but this year I've been able to be more systematic in identifying some of the imported fill by rock type, and direct my efforts accordingly. No fewer than three new trilobite specimens (all partials, sadly, but still interesting) have been logged into my collection: Anchiopsis anchiops, Mannopyge halli, and Trypaulites erinus.
(Pictured above: an apparent large, albeit incomplete, gastropod steinkern)
I must have picked over these rocks in the pit, hill, and surrounding area about 30-40 times this year - if only because it is conveniently just beyond my backyard. Rocks from the Dundee, Amherstburg, and Bois Blanc formations abound. Of course, there are hardly any larger rocks left to split so perhaps a good winter will weather out some promising rock for next season. I do secretly wish that more rock gets imported, but it has been a few years now.
(Pictured above: a few brachs, including some lovely vermillion-coloured Leptaena - a brachiopod that is fairly abundant in this area).
I have a soft spot for this location ever since I found some coral and a spirifer back in 2013. I had been walking the trails back there since 2010 or so every autumn, but finding those fossils rekindled a childhood passion of mine, and at a time when things were particularly very challenging in my life.
(Pictured above: more Leptaena)
How far I've come since, and as I've changed and grown, so too has the site itself. Every year it takes on a radically new appearance, with new exposures, new lines of undergrowth. When I started picking things over here, all I had was a rusty old nail hammer and a wood chisel. Today I have my arsenal of precision rock hammers, sledges, and cold chisels. With better tools, better knowledge, and a better eye, better specimens have been the happy result.
(Pictured above: trilobite pieces (cephalon fragment, pygidium fragments, thoracic fragment).
I've collected at locations that have far more diversity, fossil abundance, and more interesting specimens, but this collecting location is special to me. It is the place where it all began (or at least picked up where I left off in childhood). It is the place that provided me with respite during very bad times. A place of solace and surprise, situated where I am the happiest: in nature, among the rocks and trees.
This site has been exceedingly kind to me this year, and even if next year's finds may be minimal, it has been generous enough already. And although I may only come back with something of interest to me once out of every 4 or even 10 visits, it is still a place where I never feel the time spent was time wasted. And just when I least expect it, that there is really nothing to be found on a visit, it just takes one rock split to transform a casual visit into a trip to remember.