In January, returning from Vancouver, I tried to smuggle a polished lump of jade green beach stone through Airport Security. A polite young man asked me to open my suitcase. "Did I have a large rock inside?" he asked, puzzled. Well, I did, in the toe of a sock, and he was chagrined to confiscate it, though if I wished to return to the airport concourse, he said I would find everything I needed to mail it to myself. But I wasn't that attached to the stone, even if it did feel good in the palm of my hand and came from my parents' beach. It was a stone with a history.
I thought of this yesterday, going through Security at Vancouver Airport again. This time my socks were full of sea-polished oyster shells: tools, not weapons, my inner primitive told me, though my stone would have made a nice tool as well, raw material for a stone blade, maybe a hammer to break open a live oyster, or pound a teepee pole into hard ground. My oyster shells made it through Security. I have given them to my Park City, Utah (I have travelled from sea level to Katmandou) granddaughter; like good primitives we have made them into a necklace.