December 17, 2003
One of the skills I honed as a boy was the ability to skip a rock on the water. I learned to do it at an early age in Kentucky, and I was really chapped when we moved to Savannah and there WERE NO ROCKS around here. Boys like throwing rocks. In this flat, sandy area of the country, you can't find anything to throw except dirt-clods and "brick-bats," a Southern term that I never heard before I came to Georgia.
A brick-bat is a chunk of concrete, a shard of brick or a piece of a cinder-block, which are about the only forms of rock you'll find around here. They are no good for skipping on the water because they are rough and irregular in shape.
A good skipping rock is smooth and round and flat. You discover them on the riverbank or in the shallow water, where they probably lay for centuries before you found them. Get a pocket-full and go down to a quiet place in the creek. Fling them sidearm, with lots of spin, then count the number of skips they make off the water before they go under and sink. If you're really good, you can skip one clean to the bank on the other side.
Surface tension on the water and a flat, spinning rock make a good team.
My boy knows how to skip a rock because I taught him up at Clarke Hill Lake, where we once vacationed every summer. He knows the right kind of rock when he sees one and he was getting pretty good the last time I saw him skipping them across the lake. "Look at THAT, Daddy! It skipped EIGHT TIMES!"
Skipping rocks. It doesn't take much to enterain a young boy.
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